In Rome, Murray advances to 2nd straight clay-court final

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ROME (AP) Andy Murray beat French qualifier Lucas Pouille 6-2, 6-1 at the Italian Open on Saturday to advance to his second clay-court final in two weeks.

Murray maintained his focus through two rain delays at the Foro Italico and will face either top-ranked Novak Djokovic or sixth-seeded Kei Nishikori for the title on Sunday.

Murray also reached the final of last week’s Madrid Open, losing to Djokovic.

The start of the match was delayed for nearly an hour due to rain. Then there was a suspension of about 10 minutes midway through the first set due to a brief downpour.

The match time was less than an hour.

Murray, who hasn’t dropped a set this week, will return to No. 2 in the rankings ahead of Roger Federer on Monday.

The 52nd-ranked Pouille gained a spot in the tournament as a lucky loser after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga withdrew because of an adductor injury. He advanced to the final when Argentine opponent Juan Monaco withdrew because of injury.

Against Murray, however, Pouille’s luck ran out.

Murray broke early in each set and Pouille was never really in the match.

With the French Open starting next weekend, Murray improved his clay record over this year and last to 28-3.

In the women’s semifinals, Serena Williams was to play Irina-Camelia Begu and Garbine Muguruza was facing Madison Keys.

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/asdampf