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Ferrero & Safin To Battle For London Title

Ferrero© Tim EdwardsJuan Carlos Ferrero earned his spot in the Champions Tennis final in London with a victory against Fabrice Santoro.

Two of the best players on the ATP Champions Tour in 2017 met at Royal Albert Hall on Saturday in a win-and-in scenario at Champions Tennis. Only one of Juan Carlos Ferrero and Fabrice Santoro could advance to the final.

And while Santoro was the defending champion and a recent titlist in Monterrey, it was Ferrero who came out on top, beating the Frenchman 6-4, 6-3 to advance to Sunday’s championship match.

“Obviously playing against Fabrice is not easy because he has a thousand kinds of shots and you have to pay a lot of attention... he is running all the time and doing shots you don’t expect,” Ferrero said. “It was always so fun to play against him when we were on the [ATP World] Tour, and especially here.”

The Spaniard, who began coaching Nitto ATP Finals qualifier Alexander Zverev this season, broke at the end of the first set to gain the lead, and had far less trouble in the second set. He led 5-1 before eventually closing it out.

With a spot in the final on the line, it was always going to be a fun encounter, especially considering Ferrero and Santoro are both in form, each winning titles on the ATP Champions Tour this season.

“[It was a] good match once again. We played two very good sets of tennis,” Santoro said. “Obviously the first set was very, very tight and Juan Carlos played a bit better.”

The former World No. 1 will face another former top-ranked player in the Emirates ATP Rankings in Marat Safin. The Russian may be competing at Champions Tennis in London for the first time, but he has looked very much at home. 

Safin battled past home favourite Greg Rusedski 6-3, 3-6, 10/7 to set up a showdown against an old rival in Ferrero.

"I was pretty happy that I started pretty well. I started to think too much," Safin said. "I didn't want to lose."

Safin and Ferrero, who both went 2-0 in group play, split their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 6-6 when they competed on the ATP World Tour. Safin won both of their indoor hard court meetings, while the duo also faced off in two championship matches (1-1).

Santoro and Xavier Malisse, who each won one match this week, will play for third place in Sunday's first match.

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