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Baghdatis stops Malisse to reach Washington final

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Eighth-seed Marcos Baghdatis served his way to a 6-2 7-6 victory over Belgian Xavier Malisse on Saturday to reach the final of the Washington Classic.

Baghdatis lost his serve only once and took advantage of frequent unforced errors by Malisse, especially on the backhand side, to reach his first final in the United States.

The first break of the second set occurred in the 11th game when Malisse punched a forehand wide to give the 25th-ranked Baghdatis a 6-5 lead.

But Malisse came through when it mattered, breaking Baghdatis in the next game to force a tiebreaker. The Cypriot broke out to a 6-1 lead in the tiebreaker and won it 7-4 when Malisse netted a backhand.

Baghdatis, searching for his second title of the year, will play the winner of Saturday's other semi-final between fourth-seed Marin Cilic of Croatia, ranked 13th in the world, and 2002 Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian of Argentina.

(Writing by Steve Ginsburg; Editing by Dave Thompson)