Sydney: South Africa's Kevin Anderson beat Julien Benneteau of France 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8) on Friday in a match between players separated by a single ranking point to reach the final of the Sydney International. Last year's runner-up, Benneteau edged Anderson by the single point to claim the 32nd and last seeding place at next week's Australian Open after Anderson passed up the chance to earn ranking points by representing South Africa at the Hopman Cup.
Anderson gained a small measure of revenge Friday when he beat Benneteau in a thrilling match of almost 2½ hours. He will now face the winner of the second semifinal between Australia's Bernard Tomic and third-seeded Andreas Seppi. Anderson, ranked No. 36, played his way into his fourth tour final and remained on course for his third title, rallying from a set down to beat the 35th-ranked Benneteau.
Benneteau broke Anderson's powerful serve twice, in the fifth and ninth games, while dominating on his own serve to take the first set in 31 minutes. Anderson fought back behind his improved serve to take the second set, serving four aces and adding nine clean winners. Benneteau, in contrast, struggled to hold serve and found himself suddenly on the defensive. He was broken in the ninth game, allowing Anderson to serve out the set.
Little separated the players in the final set and both gave up their serve once before heading into a tiebreaker, which went back and forth for 19 points before Anderson finally clinched victory with an overhead winner.