Lucas Pouille reached his third final in four weeks with a 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) victory over Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic in the Dubai last-four on Friday.
The No. 2 seed was broken while serving for the match in the second set but recovered in the decider to wrap up the win in 2 hours and 19 minutes on a rainy day in the Emirates and will be looking to capture a second trophy of the season on Saturday’s final.
Pouille, who won the Montpellier title less than four weeks ago and reached the final in Marseille last week, could break the top-10 for the first time if he triumphs on Saturday.
The Frenchman was playing Krajinovic for the second time in seven days, having also defeated him in the Marseille quarter-finals last Friday.
In Dubai, the 24-year-old Pouille awaits the winner of the second semi-final between Tunisian wildcard Malek Jaziri and No. 3 seed Roberto Bautista Agut.
Pouille broke for 4-2 with some exceptional net skills and it was all he needed to take a one-set lead over his Serbian opponent. The French world No. 15 broke in the fifth game of the second set and served for the match at 5-4 but Krajinovic struck with his back against the wall and drew level on his second opportunity of the game.
There was a seven-minute interruption as the courts needed to be dried before play resumed. Krajinovic saved a break point to hold for 6-5.
The set went to a tiebreak and it was Krajinovic who first edged ahead 3-1. Pouille got the mini-break back with a return winner but then sent a forehand wide to trail 2-4 at the change-of-ends.
Pouille saved a first set point with an ace but Krajinovic slammed a return winner the next point to secure the second set and force a decider.
The pair stayed neck and neck in the third set before rain suspended play with Pouille leading 4-3. They returned to the court nearly 30 minutes later and the set also went to a tiebreak.
Pouille went up 5-2 showing great athleticism and got his hands on three match points with a big forehand winner. He netted a volley to lose the first and sent a ball long to see the second slip away. But on his own serve, Pouille did not falter as a Krajinovic ball sailed wide to put an end to an intriguing encounter.
“I think that would have hurt a lot to lose,” said Pouille after the win. “I was much better first and second set, 6-3, 5-3. I think I made a mistake continue playing when it was raining. After that we couldn’t even move. It was just serve and return. But he deserved to win the second set. I mean, he put the return in the court. He was aggressive. I couldn’t put a first serve, so…
“Then in the third, it was very, very close. Yeah, I’m just very happy I get through this one.”
Despite the loss, Krajinovic will enter the top-30 for the first time on Monday.
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