ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- Mikhail Youzhny of Russia and Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin will meet for the title at the St. Petersburg Open after both won semifinal matches on Saturday.
The top-seeded Youzhny, who won this tournament in 2004, saved four match points in a third-set tiebreaker before finishing off fellow Russian Dmitry Tursunov, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (10-8). Kukushkin won the opening semifinal in much easier fashion with a 6-3, 6-4 triumph over the Ukraine's Ilya Marchenko.
Youzhny was down 6-3 in the third-set tiebreaker, but ripped off the next three points to deny Tursunov, who won the next point to set up another match point. Again Youzhny saved it and won the next point for his first match point. Tursunov, though, claimed the next point for 8-8 before Youzhny won the next two to finally prevail in a match that lasted just over three hours.
Kukushkin had little trouble in his match and needed just 95 minutes to advance to his first career ATP final. He raced to a 5-1 lead in the first set and broke serve for a 5-4 lead in the second before closing it out.
Ranked 88th in the world, Kukushkin on Sunday will try to become the fifth first-time winner on Tour this year.
Youzhny is 2-2 in finals this year. He lost back-to-back title matches in February, beaten by Robin Soderling in Rotterdam and by Novak Djokovic in Dubai, then won a French Open tuneup at Munich in May and claimed the crown in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month.
The 10th-ranked Muscovite is still in the running for one of the coveted eight spots in the ATP World Tour Finals and on Sunday will try to improve upon his 7-9 all-time mark in title matches. In addition to his victory at this event in 2004, he was also the runner-up in 2002.
Youzhny, the last Russian to win this title six years ago, beat Kukushkin in their lone previous meeting, a 6-2, 6-1 rout in the 2009 Moscow semifinals.
The 2010 St. Petersburg champ will collect $113,600.