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Stepanek chases maiden title against Rochus

Written by: Staff

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands, Feb 26 (Reuters) Radek Stepanek will get a fourth chance to bag a maiden career title after beating Nikolay Davydenko 4-6 6-3 6-3 to reach final of the World Tournament yesterday.

The Czech, who has lost his three previous ATP finals, rallied from 3-1 down in the decider, reeling off five straight games against the second-seeded Russian.

In the final he will face Belgian Christophe Rochus after the 27-year-old beat Finland's Jarkko Nieminen 6-4 6-3. Rochus, whose younger brother Olivier was beaten by Nieminen late on Friday, is also looking for a first career title.

''I knew what I had to do but I felt a bit tired in the first set after a late quarter-final on Friday,'' the 27-year-old Stepanek told a news conference.

''Against a player like Davydenko you are not allowed to make any mistakes at all.

''I turned the match in the second set and even when I was 3-1 down in the third I had the feeling I was in control.

''When you are able to change your game plan during the match it can make the difference. That is my strongest weapon.

''I am excited to be in the final in my third year in Rotterdam,'' he said. ''It is a great crowd and if you see all the previous great winners on the board you want your own name between them.'' Nieminen seemed to be in control of the first set when he led 4-3 with a break, however Rochus took the next three games and then built a comfortable lead early in the second set.

''I think that if Nieminen didn't have such a tough match last night it would have been more difficult,'' Rochus told a news conference.

''It seems to me that all the luck I missed so far this season came to me this week.

''Stepanek will be favourite for the final, although if I play my best game I also am capable to win the tournament.'' A final between Stepanek and Rochus at the prestigious indoor event would have seemed a long shot before a succession of top seeds withdrew before the tournament started.

World number two Rafael Nadal was the highest profile casualty, pulling out on the eve of the tournament.

Reuters SK VP0458

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