Russia's Youzhny into Dubai final after straight sets win

By Matt Smith

DUBAI (Reuters) - Seventh seed Mikhail Youzhny beat Austrian outsider Juergen Melzer 7-5 7-6 on Friday to book his place in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships.

The Russian will face either defending champion and world number two Novak Djokovic or Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis on Saturday, eager to go one better after losing the 2007 final to Roger Federer.

Youzhny's greater consistency was decisive in the semi-final as his lower-ranked opponent made too many unforced errors to really trouble the world number 15.

At 4-5, a wide Youzhny forehand gave Melzer, 28, a chance to break and claim the opening set, but the left-hander clipped a forehand into the net after an 18-shot rally.

Melzer saved two break points at 5-5 but a third was beyond him as Youzhny, 27, delivered a measured lob winner and then served out the set.

The second set followed a similar pattern, with serve again dominating. Melzer missed an easy smash that would have given him two break points at 3-2.

Just 20 points were won against serve in the set. In the tiebreak, Melzer hit a backhand cross-court shot wide to give Youzhny a mini-break and ultimately the match as the Russian triumphed 7-4 in his fourth Dubai semi-final.

"Juergen played really well today," Youzhny told reporters. "He was aggressive. He won a lot of good points. So for me it was really tough."

(Editing by Clare Fallon)