Vanni outlasts Souza in Brasil Open semis, Cuevas next

Sao Paulo, Brazil ( - Luca Vanni continued his surprising run at the Brasil Open with a three-set semifinal victory over home crowd favorite Joao Souza and will play in his first ATP final on Sunday.

The Italian qualifier went nearly three hours in the first semifinal on Saturday, outlasting Souza in a 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4 triumph.

Ranked 149th in the world, Vanni has already won six times in eight days and will try for his first career title on Sunday against fifth-seeded Pablo Cuevas, a 6-4, 6-3 winner over Santiago Giraldo on Saturday.

Vanni appeared to have the match in hand, serving at 5-4 in the second set with a pair of match points. Souza, however, saved both and managed to break serve. The Brazilian then forced a tiebreaker and won that to send the match to a decisive third set.

Souza broke for a 4-3 lead, but Vanni answered with a break and won the next two games to finish just four minutes shy of three hours.

There wasn't nearly as much drama in the second semifinal. In fact, it took just 70 minutes for Cuevas to reach his third career final.

The native of Uruguay won a pair of titles last year, in Bastad and Umag, but had started 2015 with just one win in three matches before this week's run.

Sunday will mark the first meeting between Cuevas and Vanni. The winner will collect a first prize of $80,850.