Big-serving Isner to meet Clement in Auckland final

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By Greg Stutchbury

AUCKLAND (Reuters) - Crowd favorite John Isner advanced to his second career ATP Tour final on Friday with an 6-2 7-6 victory over Spanish eighth seed Albert Montanes.

Isner, who knocked out top seed Tommy Robredo on Thursday, again used his booming serve to nullify the speedy Montanes, notching up 14 aces in the process.

The 2.05-meter tall American set up a final against experienced French campaigner Arnaud Clement with his first victory all week that did not require a third set.

"It felt good to get it done in two sets," said Isner. "I played really well in the first and he picked it up in the second but I still had chances.

"I played a bit too tentative and that is something I can't do tomorrow."

The 24-year-old American, who also beat Montanes in Auckland last year, seized both of his break opportunities to romp away with the first set.

The Spaniard, however, was more resilient in the second, fending off four break opportunities to send it into a tiebreak, though Isner said he felt that he was always likely to win the shootout.

"I served really well," he said. "Probably the best I served all tournament and that was key.

"I told myself in the second set that if it went to a tiebreak I fancied my chances."

The 32-year-old Clement advanced to his 11th career final when he upset 2008 champion Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 7-6.

"It was a very, very good match for me," Clement told reporters. "I haven't played like this for a long time.

"I don't have a big serve like Isner or a big forehand like (Sebastien) Grosjean. I just try to be competitive in all aspects of my game.

"Today I was not fantastic anywhere but good everywhere. It was a great feeling for me on court."

The Frenchman, who made the Australian Open final against Andre Agassi in 2001, said Isner would be a tough opponent in Saturday's final, and not just for the blistering serve.

"It's harder today ... 10 years ago it was a bit different. The guys with the big serve were not moving well," he said.

"He is a very good player. He has a fantastic serve, but he is also playing well on the baseline now.

"He is a good fighter and I think he can beat anyone on the tour when he is playing his best.

"It will be hard for me to beat him, but when you are playing a final you want to win (and) if I play like I played today I think I have a chance."

(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)