at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Novak Djokovic reached the Rome Masters final after coming through a tough semi-final with Milos Raonic to beat the Canadian 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.
Djokovic, the number two seed, will face world number one Rafael Nadal in Sunday's final should the Spaniard defeat Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov in the second semi-final.
Djokovic had ousted David Ferrer 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in the quarter-finals while Nadal came through a tough clash with British number one Andy Murray on Friday.
Djokovic, who took exactly three hours to rack up his second win against Montenegrin-born Raonic in as many encounters, has won the Rome Masters twice, in 2008 and 2011.
Nadal, meanwhile, is in the hunt for an eighth win in the Italian capital.
Earlier, Sara Errani beat Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 7-5 to book her place in the women's final and maintain her hopes of becoming the first Italian woman to win the tournament in 29 years.
Errani, seeded 10, claimed her second consecutive semi-final place on Friday when she produced a stunning upset in overcoming China's number two seed Li Na 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.
Jankovic had accounted for Agnieszka Radwanska, the third seed from Poland, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the last four.
But the Serbian sixth seed was never in the match against 2012 French Open finalist Errani, who will appear in Sunday's final for the first time in her career.
“It was quite difficult out there, Sara played a great match and credit to her,” said Jankovic.
“She sent a lot of balls back, she made me hit a lot of extra balls and she used the spin.
“Overall it was a difficult day, I gave my best but there are a lot of things I could have done better.”
Errani, 27, was ousted from the semi-finals last year by Victoria Azarenka.
In Sunday's final she will meet either Jankovic's 11th seeded compatriot Ana Ivanovic or defending champion and top seed Serena Williams, who meet in the second semi-final later Saturday.
Raffaella Reggi was the last Italian woman to win the Italian Open in 1985.– AFP