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Simon to face Fognini for Bucharest crown

Gilles Simon of France will try for his third title in Bucharest on Sunday against Italy's Fabio Fognini after both won semifinal matches on Saturday.

The top-seeded Simon earned a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Germany's Matthias Bachinger before Fognini eased past Hungarian qualifier Attila Balazs, 6-3, 6-1, in just 68 minutes.

Simon won the Bucharest crown in each of his last two visits, back in 2007 and 2008, and Saturday's win gave him a 14-1 mark at the tournament. He'll take a 9-2 mark in finals into Sunday's match, last winning a title last July in Hamburg.

"I know that I can play very good here," said Simon. "I know the center court perfectly and I really think I can win this tournament one more time."

The 12th-ranked Frenchman had previously reached semifinals this year at Brisbane to start the campaign and Montpellier in February, before another run to the final four last week in Monte Carlo, where he fell to eventual champion Rafael Nadal.

Fognini will play in his first ATP final. He entered this event with a match record of just 2-5 in 2012, but has dropped just one set in four wins this week.

"Right now I'm really happy because it's my first final," noted Fognini. "I've lost maybe six or seven semifinals in a row, but today I was really solid."

Simon is 3-0 lifetime against the 57th-ranked Fognini, winning a trio of clay court meetings back in 2009.

The 2012 Bucharest champion will pocket $95,000.