Ukraine`s Alexandr Dolgopolov ground down Frenchman Gilles Simon after overcoming a leg strain to march into the final of the Brisbane International with a 6-3 6-4 victory on Saturday.
The pony-tailed Dolgopolov, a surprise quarter-finalist in his main-draw debut at the Australian Open last year, will face in the final either Andy Murray or local hope Bernard Tomic, who play in the other semi-final later on Saturday.
Dolgopolov broke the hard-nosed Frenchman twice to wrap up the first set comfortably but was made to work harder in an absorbing baseline duel in the second.
The 23-year-old took a medical time-out when leading 3-2 in the second and had his right leg massaged by a physiotherapist before returning to the court to close out the set with a pair of blistering forehands down the line.
The first winner brought up a pair of match points and the second brought victory over world number 12 Simon, who cursed himself repeatedly for some lax shot-making under pressure.
Dolgopolov, whose brilliant run to the last eight was a highlight of last year`s tournament at Melbourne Park, said his leg had been "pinched a bit" during a point against Simon but he would be fit to play the final.
"Yeah, for sure, all the people are here, I have to play," he added with a smile, raising chuckles from the crowd at Pat Rafter Arena.
"I`m really happy, I`ve been playing better and better through the matches ... It`s going to be a really exciting final, I think," said Dolgopolov, adding that he would rather face Tomic in the final.