- Associated Press - Saturday, August 7, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) - David Nalbandian of Argentina reached his first final in 1 1/2 years by overwhelming 13th-ranked Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-2, 6-2 at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic on Saturday night.

The 117th-ranked Nalbandian lost his serve in the semifinal’s first game. But he immediately broke back to start a stretch in which he won 9 of 10 games, including seven in a row, while dominating from the baseline.

This week’s run represents quite a comeback for Nalbandian, the 2002 Wimbledon runner-up who once was ranked No. 3. He hadn’t entered an ATP tournament since April because of a left hamstring injury and missed nine months, starting in May 2009, because of hip surgery.

In Sunday’s final, Nalbandian faces Marcos Baghdatis, who beat Xavier Malisse 6-2, 7-6 (4).

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Marcos Baghdatis crumpled to the court and clutched at his suddenly painful left ankle, worrying he might have to quit his semifinal match at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.

“I was scared,” Baghdatis would say later.

He looked up and saw his opponent, Xavier Malisse, trotting over, toting a plastic bag filled with ice. Soon enough, Baghdatis got that twisted ankle taped by a trainer, then resumed hitting big serves and tracking down most of Malisse’s shots.

Recovering quickly after tweaking his ankle, the No. 8-seeded Baghdatis finished with 11 aces, was broken only once, and beat Malisse 6-2, 7-6 (4) on Saturday to reach his second ATP final of 2010, his sixth overall _ and first in the United States.

“That’s typical sportsmanship from Xavier,” Baghdatis said about the offer of ice. “I would do the same thing, and I think it’s nice. But some guys don’t. … It doesn’t happen every day.”

He said the injury was “a bit of a strain, but I hope it will be fine” for Sunday’s championship match.

No. 4-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia was to meet unseeded David Nalbandian of Argentina in the other semifinal Saturday night.

With early losses by No. 2-seeded Andy Roddick, No. 5-seeded John Isner and the six other Americans entered, this is the first time in the 42-year history of the Washington tournament that no U.S. player reached the quarterfinals.

Instead, this event turned into a showcase for players who briefly had success in the past, were waylaid by injuries, and now are working their way back _ a description that applies to both Cyprus’ Baghdatis and Belgium’s Malisse.

Baghdatis has been ranked in the top 10 and played in the Australian Open final and Wimbledon semifinals in 2006, but a stress fracture in his right wrist two years later led him to fall out of the top 100. He entered low-tier Challenger tournaments to lift his ranking; indeed, his only two previous matches against Malisse were victories in finals on that circuit in 2009.

Story Continues →