Russian Mikhail Youzhny refused to fade after more than two hours in hothouse desert conditions as he reached his second final at the Barclays Championships with a defeat of Austrian Jurgen Melzer 7-5, 7-6 (7-4).
The seventh-seeded Youzhny, who less than a fortnight ago was nursing a leg injury he sustained in Rotterdam, will aim for the title in the emirate after losing the 2007 final to Roger Federer.
He was beaten for the indoor title in Rotterdam this month by Swede Robin Soderling.
Youzhny will wait for a winner from second seed and tournament draw card Novak Djokovic and former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis, the only player still remaining with an ATP title this season (Sydney).
“It was a tough match,” Youzhny said of conditions in excess of 30 celsius on one of the hottest days of the week in the desert. “All of the games were close.” Youznhy, due on court next weekend for Russia’s Davis Cup World Group date with India in Moscow, claimed the first set of the two-hour-plus battle with a break in the penultimate game before serving it out.
In the second, the pair needed a tiebreaker to decide things, with the seed converting on the first of two match points as Austria’s Melzer couldn’t handle a service winner.
Melzer managed ten aces in defeat while Youzhny’s one break of serve — and his big serving in the tiebreaker — made the slight difference.
“Before the match I was sure I would be a little slow and that Jurgen would be able to put pressure to me more. It was easy for him to attack me.
“But I served really good on tiebreak. During the match it (serving) was so, but on tiebreak I served really good.” Youzhny now stands 4-2 over Melzer, who was the only player in the final four who had not lost a set all week.