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Nishikori battles into Buenos Aires final

Japan’s Kei Nishikori returns the ball to Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq during their Argentina Open semifinal singles match at the Lawn Tennis Club in Buenos Aires on February 18, 2017 © AFP / Alejandro PAGNI

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, Feb 19Japanese top seed Kei Nishikori reached his second final of 2017 with a gruelling 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq at the Buenos Aires clay court tournament.

World number five Nishikori needed two hours 45 minutes to see off wild card Berlocq, the 34-year-old world number 77 to set-up a Sunday title showdown against Ukraine’s Aleksandr Dolgopolov who beat Spanish fourth seed Pablo Carreno-Busta 7-5, 6-2.

Nishikori made the final on hard court in Brisbane in January but was beaten by Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in three sets.

The 27-year-old will be chasing his 12th career title on Sunday and third on clay after triumphs in Barcelona in 2014 and 2015.

Dolgopolov, 28, has not dropped a set all week to reach his seventh ATP final.

He will be contesting his first title match in three years, since falling to Rafael Nadal in Rio de Janeiro in 2014.

“I feel very good,” said world number 66 Dolgopolov. “It’s really nice to be in a final again because because I had a couple of tough years.”

Nishikori will square off against Dolgopolov for the sixth time, having won all 10 sets played.

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