Auckland: Belgium's Olivier Rochus will contest his second Heineken Open final, seven years after his first, after beating eighth-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-7 (4), 6-1, 6-4 on Friday in a marathon semifinal.
The unseeded Rochus, ranked 68, will face world No. 5 and two-time champion David Ferrer of Spain in Saturday's final, four days short of his 31st birthday.
Top-seeded Ferrer beat third-seeded compatriot Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-4 after both players were forced to play quarterfinals and semifinals on the same day after rain delays Thursday.
Ferrer beat Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 and Verdasco beat doubles partner Guillermo Garica-Lopez 7-5, 6-4 in their quarterfinals.
Saturday's final pits Ferrer, the Auckland champion in 2007 and 2011, against Rochus who was beaten by Spain's Fernando Gonzalez in the 2005 final.
Ferrer said he played his best match of the week to beat world No. 24 Verdasco in windy conditions and in a match which was twice, briefly, interrupted by passing showers.
He took the first set in 45 minutes with a break in the second game, although he held break points in all of Verdasco's service games. He then clinched the second set in 42 minutes with a break in the fifth game, again having breakpoint chances on all but one of his opponents serves.
At the same time, Ferrer never faced a break point on his own serve, maintaining a steady pressure on Verdasco and taking the match on serve and on his first match point.
Verdasco never settled into the match when he found himself unable to pressure Ferrer's serve while having to counter the threat of his opponent's powerful return. He made 20 unforced errors in the second set alone, hastening his own defeat.
"My serving was very good this week," Ferrer said. "This was important for me because without my serve I couldn't have made the final."
Ferrer said Rochus would be a tough finals opponent.
"It's going to be a difficult match," he said. "Olivier has played unbelievable matches all week and I'm going to have to play my best tennis to win."
Rochus had to survive his third three-set match of the week to beat 2008 champion Kohlschreiber in 2 hours, 29 minutes. He lost the first set in 71 minutes.
But he played much more solidly in the second and third sets, chasing down every ball as Kohlschreiber became increasingly frustrated in the gusty conditions.
"All my matches this week have been so hard for me and it's fantastic to win this one," he said.
"At the end of the match I was really tired, but when you play in front of a crowd like this with an atmosphere like this, you give your best."