Kuala Lumpur – Portugal's Joao Sousa and Frenchman Julien Benneteau marched into the the finals of the Malaysian Open on Saturday.
Sousa continued his dominant form and ousted Austrian fourth seed Jurgen Melzer 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to reach his first ATP final.
The world No. 77 from Portugal, who upset top seed David Ferrer in straight sets on Friday, kept his cool under tremendous pressure from Melzer, who is the world No. 26, to record a memorable win which sets up the opportunity to be the first ATP winner from his country.
Sousa will meet fifth seed Benneteau, who defeated second seeded Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 6-3 in the final on Sunday.
Benneteau has vowed to spoil Melzer's victory party. The Frenchman, who has reached eight finals previously, is still waiting to win his first title.
Sousa is looking for a historic win in the tournament on Sunday.
“If I make it yes, I will be the first from my country to win an ATP title. That will be a big boost for the game in my country,” said Sousa, who took two hours and three minutes to book his ticket to the final.
“We have a couple of guys with good ranking and if I can win, it will be good for the national team. People will start to know a little bit more about the sport and that's good for the sport.”
Sousa, who reached the semi-finals in St Petersburg last week, received a special exemption to play in the main draw in Kuala Lumpur as he arrived too late to take his place in the qualifying round.
The move has paid off. “It has been a good few weeks and I'm hoping for the breakthrough tomorrow.
“I feel more comfortable on clay courts as I train in Barcelona, but I've been having a good run on hard courts so I'm not complaining.”
Meanwhile, Benneteau, who reached his second consecutive Malaysian Open final, said he hopes to end his jinx when he meets Sousa after reaching the final without dropping a set.
When asked about compatriot Cedric Pioline, who lost his first nine finals, Benneteau joke: “Hopefully I won't have to wait that long!
“There is no added pressure on me to win the title despite losing the others. I am determined to win here as that has been the goal since day one.” – Sapa-AFP