Seventh seed Mikhail Youzhny beat Austrian outsider Juergen Melzer 7-5 7-6 yesterday to book his place in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships.
The Russian will face defending champion and world number two Novak Djokovic, who edged out Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 6-7, 6-3, 6-4, on Saturday, eager to go one better after losing the 2007 final to Roger Federer.
Youzhny's greater consistency was decisive as his lower-ranked opponent made too many unforced errors to really trouble the world number 15. At 4-5, a wide Youzhny forehand gave Melzer, 28, a chance to break and claim the opening set, but the left-hander clipped a forehand into the net after an 18-shot rally. Melzer saved two break points at 5-5 but a third was beyond him as Youzhny, 27, delivered a measured lob winner and then served out the set.
The second set followed a similar pattern, with serve again dominating. Melzer missed an easy smash that would have given him two break points at 3-2. Just 20 points were won against serve in the set. In the tie-break, Melzer hit a backhand cross-court shot wide to give Youzhny a mini-break and ultimately the match as the Russian triumphed 7-4.
Meanwhile, Elena Dementieva reached into the semi-finals of the Malaysian Open with a straight-sets victory over Magdalena Rybarikova in Kuala Lumpur. The number one seeded Russian overran her Slovakian opponent during the opening set, taking it 6-0.
She then won the second 6-3 to progress in little over an hour. She will now face sixth-seed Sybille Bammer. Fourth seed Alisa Kleybanova takes on Japan's Ayumi Morita in the other semi-final.
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