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Ferrer to face Nalbandian in Auckland final

AUCKLAND (Reuters) - Top seed David Ferrer will meet former world number three David Nalbandian in the final of the Auckland Open after they both advanced with easy semi-final victories on Friday.

Ferrer, the world number seven, easily accounted for Colombia's Santiago Giraldo 6-3 7-5, while Nalbandian, who beat champion John Isner on Thursday, knocked out second seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 6-4 6-2.

The sixth-seeded Argentine, who had capitalized on Isner suffering from a sore right arm on Thursday, also exploited the opportunity of an injured opponent on Friday after Almagro took a medical time out in the first set to have his right foot examined.

Almagro then seemed intent on trying to finish rallies early from then on by blasting winners, which did not succeed against the wily Nalbandian, who has been drawn to face local favorite Lleyton Hewitt in the Australian Open first round next week.

Strangely enough, Nalbandian and Ferrer could face each other in the third round at Melbourne Park, should they both get that far.

The place in the Auckland final is sweet redemption for Nalbandian, who suffered an injury before last year's tournament that also forced him out of the Australian Open.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O'Brien)