Chennai: Russian Mikhail Youzhny made short work of Croat Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-3 to storm into the singles final of the Chennai Open ATP Tennis championship in Chennai on Saturday night.
Playing against Cilic for the first time, Youzhny had his game plan ready though the Croat did pose few problems with his powerful serves.
Cilic, once junior world No 2, fought well particularly in the second set and was faster on the court and used his double handed backhand shots to perfection.
MOVING AHEAD: Mikhail Youzhny hits a return against Marin Cilic in the semi-final match.
Youzhny was often in a spot of bother to adjust to the speed. However, he showed good court sense and made used the drop shots to optimum.
In the second set, both were equal to the task but Cilic impressed with his deep returns down the lines.
The rivals shared six games and here, the Croat showed his inexperience and found himself broken in the vital seventh game, twice surrendering the initiative on advantage.
Cilic almost came up with a break in the fourth game but Youzhny dug deep and raised his game.
Barring few instances of wrong shot selections, Youzhny played a flawless game.
Once Youzhny went into the lead (4-3), he never allowed Cilic any leeway and broke him in the ninth for the set and match.
The Russian now awaits the winner of top seeded Rafael Nadal and two-time former champion Carlos Moya (both of Spain) in the other semi-final.
Youzhny shares special rivalry with Nadal and invariably meets the Spaniard during important tournaments. Head-to head he has lost to Nadal five times and emerged winners on three counts.
At the Wimbledon last year, despite being on the losing side, he was leading two sets to love before he lost his nerve and Nadal went on to win a tough five-setter.
Earlier last year, Youzhny defeated Nadal in the quarter-final of Dubai Open but lost to World number one, Roger Federer 4-6 3-6 in the final.