BEIJING, Sep 15 (Reuters) Chilean second seed Fernando Gonzalez continued his Beijing revival when he came from a set down to beat Ivan Ljubicic 2-6 6-3 6-4 today and reach the final of the China Open.
Despite racking up 23 unforced errors, the 27-year-old world number seven prevailed in a little under two hours to set up a final against Spanish third seed Tommy Robredo, who beat German wildcard Nicolas Kiefer 7-6 7-5.
Gonzalez, a finalist at the Australian Open and Rome Masters this year, will be playing for his first title of the season after coming to Beijing on the back of a four-match losing streak over the U.S. hardcourt season.
''I've been winning here but I think I can play much better,'' he said. ''I'm really happy to be winning as that will help me to get back to my best.'' World number 11 Robredo has done little since he won his sole title of the season on Polish clay last month and he was pushed hard over two tight sets by Kiefer, who is 168th in the world after a year on the sidelines with a wrist injury.
The players traded breaks in consecutive games in the first set and could be separated only by a tie-break, which the 25-year-old Spaniard won 7-5 despite Kiefer's spirited comeback from 6-1 down.
Several entertaining rallies peppered the second set, not least in a marathon 11th game. Robredo finally won that and saved the need for a second tiebreak when he converted the first of three match points in the next game.
LJUBICIC LIVELIER In the first semi-final, Ljubicic made a livelier start and secured a break for 4-2 with a superb backhand crosscourt winner, added another break to seal the first set, then raced to a 2-0 lead in the second.
Gonzalez broke back immediately, however, and began to make his passing shots count, grabbing another break to send the match into a decider.
It was the Croatian who made the first move in a cagey third set with a break for 4-3 when Gonzalez once more showed his ineptitude at the net, but the Chilean again rallied to return the favour on the next service game.
Two games later a tired-looking Ljubicic, who needed three sets to beat defending champion Marcos Baghdatis late on Friday and admitted he had not had enough time to recover, hit the net cord to cede the tie.
Gonzalez lost to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the two finals he has played this year and so should find Robredo an easier opponent, although he has lost his last two encounters with the Spaniard.
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