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Arnaud Clement, confident about his chances for a fourth career ATP title, reached the Washington Classic final with a 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/4) victory over former world number one Marat Safin.
The 57th-ranked Frenchman won half the points off Safin's second serve and took advantage the Russian's errors to book a date with Britain's Andy Murray or Russian Dmitry Tursunov in Sunday's final of the 600,000-dollar event.
"It feels very special. It's a fantastic feeling for me,"
"I just want to play a good match. I have a good chance to win if I play good tennis."
Clement, in his ninth ATP final, has not won a tour title outside his homeland, winning last February at Marseille as well as in 2000 at Lyon and 2003 in Metz.
Safin became the third ATP veteran in a row Clement defeated for the first time in his 10-year career, having ended hexes against Slovakian Dominik Hrbaty and Australian Lleyton Hewitt earlier this week at the US Open warmup.
"To beat Safin makes this very special," Clement said. "I feel great about my game."
Clement lost his only prior match against Safin in 2001 at Wimbledon but has not dropped a set in four matches this week at the US Open warmup event, rallying from a break down in both sets against Safin.