Mardy Fish kept his focus after a rain interruption to complete a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 win over Austria's Jurgen Melzer, propelling the American into the final of the Kooyong Classic.
The 30-year-old Fish, ranked eighth in the world, will face promising Australian teen Bernard Tomic in Saturday's final of the elite eight-man tune-up for the Australian Open which starts on Monday.
Fish has a 2-1 record against the 19-year-old Tomic, who is ranked 37th and lost their last meeting in the October Shanghai second round.
"He has a great feel for the game, he's got all the shots and he's awkward to play. He'll only get more confident and tougher to play." said Fish.
"He's light-years ahead of where I was at 19 so I can't compare myself to him."
Conditions at the Kooyong club were challenging for a third straight day, with light rain stopping play in the second set with Fish up a break and 2-2, 15-all in the second.
After a 45-minute interruption, Melzer returned to court the stronger of the pair, levelling the match after breaking Fish to love for 5-4.
But the third set swung back to Fish, with the American re-establishing dominance to book a spot in the final after less than 90 minutes of play.
"I played well, with maybe one bad game," said Fish.
"You have to get used to rain delays again and it's been a while since I dealt with one, I could have shown some more energy when we came back out," he added.
On Saturday he will attempt to follow in the footsteps of his friend Andy Roddick, who won the Open warm-up tournament three times.
Fish is hoping to build on the breakthrough he made last year when he moved into the ATP Top 10 after losing weight and rebuilding his game following knee surgery in 2009.
The American said playing a competitive match made all the difference in preparation for the Open.
"No matter how many practise matches you play at Melbourne Park, you can't duplicate this: a crowd, television, the pressure. This is great preparation for the Open," he said.
AFPTags: australian-open, tennis, sport, melbourne-3000, vic, australia First posted January 13, 2012 14:16:57