ROTTERDAM: Belarussian Max Mirnyi outduelled his doubles partner and second seed Roger Federer 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the World Indoor Tournament final yesterday.
Nicknamed The Beast, the towering Mirnyi savaged his friend in three brutal sets to snap Federers 10-match winning streak and enter only the second final of his career. He will meet either Sebastien Grosjean of France or Raemon Sluiter of Holland in the final.
Federer, gunning for his second trophy in as many weeks after capturing the Marseille Open last Sunday, got off to a flying start by breaking Mirnyi in the opening game of the match.
But with Mirnyi ominously stalking Federer's every move, he grabbed the break back in the sixth game with a series of scorching service returns.
Even when Federer bagged the first set through a Mirnyi double fault on set point, the world number 46 refused to let his opponent dictate play.
The defending doubles champion here with Federer, Mirnyi gradually dug his claws into a frustrated Federer and levelled the match after 66 minutes with a thundering ace.
There was little to separate the players in the first eight games of the final set as both refused to give an inch.
But Mirnyi finally moved in for the kill in the ninth when Federer momentarily lost his focus.
At 15-40, he forced the Swiss to hit a lame forehand into the net to gain the break, leaving Federer to smash his racquet into the ground in disgust.
An emphatic ace on his first match point sealed Mirnyi's passage into a final for the first time since the 2001 Stuttgart Masters. Reuters