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Federer rallies past Haas to reach Halle final

Roger Federer is back in the final at the Gerry Weber Open after rallying for a three-set victory over German crowd favorite Tommy Haas in Saturday's semifinals.

Federer, the top seed and a five-time winner of the Wimbledon tune-up, pulled out a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 triumph on Saturday and avenged a loss to Haas in last year's Halle final.

"It was a great match for me to play and then also to win," said Federer about Saturday's triumph. "Tommy can play really well here. We saw that last year here and in previous years he's also been successful. I'm very happy that I was able to maintain really a high level of play."

The Swiss superstar has yet to win a title in 2013, falling to Rafael Nadal in his lone previous final this year last month in Rome. He was a quarterfinal loser to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last weekend at the French Open, but is trying to turn around his season on his favorite surface.

"Winning tournaments is everything," noted Federer. "For me, it would be great to win the final. It comes at the right time. If I don't, I know I can still build on something because I've had a good few weeks so far. But, no doubt about it, I'll try everything in my power to win (Sunday)."

Grass has always suited Federer well, with seven of his record 17 Grand Slam titles coming on the famed lawns of Wimbledon, where he will return later this month as defending champion. He has now reached the Gerry Weber final for the eighth time and on Sunday will take on Russian Mikhail Youzhny, a 6-3, 6-2 semifinal winner over second-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet on Saturday.

Haas, who also won the Gerry Weber crown in 2009 in addition to his stunning upset of Federer last year, appeared ready to repeat last year's result after a break of serve in the sixth game enabled him to take the first set.

Federer, though, used a break to open a 3-0 lead in the second set and never faced a break point the rest of the way. He broke again for a 2-1 lead in the third set and finished the match in 98 minutes, far different from Friday's 6-0, 6-0, 39-minute thumping of German Mischa Zverev.

"After losing the first set, there's not that much margin anymore," Federer added about Saturday's early struggle. "I think he won most of the big points in the first set. Then in the second and third I was able to turn it around and win the big points myself. So, it was a big, good win for me. And I thought the quality was also extremely high."

Federer previously won this tournament from 2003-06 and again in 2008. He lost to Lleyton Hewitt in the 2010 finale before falling to Haas last year.

Youzhny has had no success whatsoever against Federer, losing each of their 14 meetings. The two haven't met since the quarterfinals at Wimbledon last year, a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 Federer rout. Federer also claimed a 6-1, 6-4 victory in the semifinals at this event last year and also beat Youzhny here in the 2002 quarterfinals, 2003 semifinals and 2004 round of 16.

Federer is 76-35 all-time in title matches, while Youzhny is 8-10.

Youzhny, who polished off Gasquet in just 58 minutes on Saturday, topped his best previous result of 2013 -- a semifinal loss at Zagreb back in February. He hasn't won a title since capturing the Zagreb crown in 2012.

Sunday's winner will earn $163,000.