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New champ in Rio

Monday, February 26, 2018

RIO DE JANEIRO - Argentine Diego Schwartzman beat Nicolas Jarry 7-5 6-2 yesterday to reach the final of the Rio Open and set up a showdown with Fernando Verdasco after the Spaniard beat Fabio Fognini 6-1 7-5.

The semi-final results mean the tournament will have a new winner and give either Schwartzman or Verdasco their first ATP tour title in more than a year.

Verdasco, at 34 the oldest of the four semi-finalists, broke Fognini in the first game of the match and then romped through the first set.

Italian Fognini, who knocked out home favourite Thomaz Bellucci in the first round, improved in the second set but could not stop Verdasco from breaking in the decisive 12th game to wrap up the match.

World number 23 Schwartzman was too good for Chilean Jarry, who was aiming to reach his first ATP final.

The Argentine broke early in the first set before closing out the opener and then overran the 22-year-old in the second.

Meanwhile Russian Karen Khachanov outplayed Czech Tomas Berdych 6-3 6-2 to reach the Marseille Open final on Saturday, setting up a title showdown with Frenchman Lucas Pouille.

World number 47 Khachanov was impeccable on serve, saving the meagre three break points Berdych had throughout the duel.

The 21-year-old has now beaten former world number four Berdych in both their meetings having also prevailed at last year's French Open.

Pouille reached his second final of the season after a 6-3 7-6(6) defeat of Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka.

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