- Associated Press - Saturday, April 14, 2012

HOUSTON (AP) - Juan Monaco defeated qualifier Michael Russell 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 to advance to the final of the U.S. Clay Court Championship at River Oaks Country Club.

Monaco, who came in ranked 16th in the world, will face the winner of the John Isner-Feliciano Lopez match later Saturday. The 28-year-old Argentine improved to 10-2 on clay this year, including a victory at Vina del Mar in February.

The 33-year-old Russell, who lives in Houston, was playing in his first career semifinal. He came in ranked 136th in the world.

Monaco was playing in his third semifinal of the season. He took a 5-4 lead in the deciding set when Russell missed a backhand return. Russell fell behind 15-40 in the next game, and netted a backhand return on match point.

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