Kevin Anderson fought off two match points to deny Frenchman Julien Benneteau and become the first South African to reach the final of the Sydney International on Friday.
The 36th-ranked Anderson prevailed 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (10/8) in two hours 23 minutes to get into Saturday's decider where he will face either young Australian Bernard Tomic or Italian third seed Andreas Seppi.
Wayne Ferreira was the last South African to play in a Sydney semi-final against Carlos Moya in 2004.
Anderson was down match point on his service in the 12th game of the third set but saved it with a terrific second service ace -- one of 18 for the match -- and then held with a crosscourt backhand to take the set into a tiebreaker.
Benneteau, playing in the Sydney semi-finals for third time in four years, faced a match point at 6-5 in the tiebreaker before he got his second match point at 7-6, only to shank a forehand off his racquet and waste the chance.
Anderson brought up his second match point with an ace but had more luck with his third match point at 9-8 when he put away a crosscourt winner at the net.
It was his first win in three meetings with the 35th-ranked Benneteau and puts him in line to go after his third career ATP title after wins at Delray Beach last year and Johannesburg in 2011.