Andy Roddick was outplayed for most of the night by Sam Querrey. But when the match got to the tiebreakers, Roddick took charge.
The top-seeded Roddick beat the seventh-seeded Querrey, 2-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4), on Saturday night in a protracted semifinal at the SAP Open that featured a combined 53 aces.
Roddick reached the final of the event, which will be held on Sunday, for the fourth time. He will face Spain's Fernando Verdasco, who reached his first final since October by beating Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 earlier in the day.
"I'm not going to say I wasn't fortunate or lucky," Roddick said. "Sam pretty much outplayed me the entire match. When I'm not hitting the ball as well, I use my serve to get me some points. I figured if I get to the tiebreak in the second set it could turn real quick."
Querrey, a San Francisco native, never faced a break point and had 32 aces.
"I played well the entire match," Querrey said. "It was just a couple of loose errors in the tiebreaks. I just kind of sprayed a couple."
Roddick held serve in 30 of 31 previous games, but was broken by Querrey twice in the first set. Querrey held serve in all but one game of the tournament.
"I was just sticking around," said Roddick, who improved to 13-1 on the year and won his 11th tiebreaker in 13 chances. "It seemed like Sam aced me every other point. I need to get a better look at those shots."
Roddick, who reached his 46th ATP World Tour final, has a seven-match winning streak against Verdasco and is 9-2 against him all-time.
The second-seeded Verdasco will attempt to become the first Spaniard to win a title in the Bay Area since Manuel Santana in 1964.
"I was not playing great in the first set, but I wasn't missing," Verdasco said. "We were both up and down and when it came to end of the match I tried to push harder, make good returns and send the ball deep. I hit two good forehands and he made a couple of mistakes. He's playing well this year and he's dangerous."
Istomin, enjoying a breakout season, beat a pair of seeded players to reach his first career ATP Tour semifinal. He reached the third round of the Australian Open.
"I've started the season well and I hope that leads to a good year," said the 23-year-old Istomin, who plays next in Marseille, France before playing in the Davis Cup. "Every match is an opportunity to improve. I can play with these guys. I can battle with these guys."
Verdasco reached his 10th ATP World Tour final, and his second on American soil. He won his third tour title in New Haven, Conn., last August. He becomes the first left-hander to reach the finals here since Greg Rusedski beat Andre Agassi in the 2001 championship match.
"If I was going to be honest with myself I did not expect to get to the final," Verdasco said. "After the Australian Open I took 10 days off to rest and only practiced three days in Los Angeles before coming up here."
Santana remains a pivotal figure in Spanish tennis and is the tournament director of the Masters Series in Madrid. Verdasco invited him to Wimbledon two years ago as an adviser.
"I never saw him play but everybody tells me he had talent," Verdasco said. "We've had a relationship for many years already."
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