Mikhail Youzhny reached his third St. Petersburg Open final by saving four match points while beating fellow Russian Dmitry Tursunov 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (8) in the semifinals on Saturday.
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In his fifth final of the year, the top-seeded Youzhny will face Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, who reached his first career ATP final with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Illya Marchenko of Ukraine.
Youzhny is 2-2 in finals this year and will be chasing his eighth career title.
The Russian, the 2004 champion and 2002 runner-up, broke wild card Tursunov in the 11th game of the first set then took 14 minutes and endured six deuces to serve out.
Tursunov, a six-time winner on tour and former top-20 player who has slipped to 264th after surgery, went up 3-0 in the second set, and Youzhny had to save three break points and needed almost 14 minutes again to break back on his sixth break point in the fifth game.
Youzhny finally conceded the set on a double fault in the 10th.
After an exchange of breaks midway through the third set, Youzhny saved four match points in the tiebreaker and wrapped up the victory on his second match point when Tursunov returned wide.
The unseeded Kukushkin needed far less drama in his semifinal. He broke twice for 5-1 in the first set, and made the decisive break in the ninth game of the second against Marchenko.
Kukushkin said he’d set no goals before the tournament and played free of pressure.
”I didn’t think of reaching the quarterfinals or semifinals, and I don’t think about my next opponent during the event,” Kukushkin said. ”I just wanted to play my best tennis. I was relaxed and that helped me to win today. Illya always fights till the last point of the match.”
On the way to the semifinals, the 88th-ranked Kukushkin upset seventh-seeded Jeremy Chardy and third-seeded Janko Tipsarevic.
”I’m satisfied with the way I played at the tournament,” Marchenko said. ”But I really was tired both physically and mentally and I couldn’t control my emotions today. Mikhail was better today and that’s why he won.”