Bangkok - Richard Gasquet credited luck and a fighting spirit as he salvaged a 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over Finland's Jarkko Nieminen to book an all-French final at the Thailand Open on Saturday.
Gasquet, the second seed playing the tournament for the first time, said he seemed destined to lose trailing the 2010 finalist and seventh seed 6-3, 4-0 before turning the tide in s struggle lasting for nearly two hours
Gasquet will play for the title on Sunday against compatriot Gilles Simon, who upset top seed Janko Tipsarevic 6-4, 6-4.
Gasquet owns a 5-0 record against his good friend.
"I thought I was going to lose for sure. I was frustrated in the first set and was playing badly," said the 14th-ranked Gasquet, now 4-1 over Nieminen.
"But down 4-0 I was able to start playing better. He got tight when he was serving for it, had a double fault and I was back in the match when I broke him.
"It was a huge challenge for me and I'm glad I came through, but I really thought I wouldn't make it.
Gasquet took control in the final set as the 31-year-old Nieminen's game went off the boil.
But the Finn saved two match points in the final game on his serve before taking the bitter loss when he sent a backhand wide.
Gasquet, winner in Estoril and the Toronto Masters this season, said that playing Simon will be important. "He's my friend and we know each other's games well.
"At least we know there will be a French winner."
Simon, the fourth seed and 2009 champion, said he took full advantage of a welcome state of fitness on the day against Tipsarevic after battling over the past few seasons with problems including knee, back and currently, a shoulder niggle.
"Every time I go into a match feeling good, it puts pressure on me," said the ATP number 19. "I feel that I need to take advantage of whatever fitness I have."
Simon came out the better on a number of long rallies with Tipsarevic, who was aiming to win a second Asian title after claiming Kuala Lumpur honours a year ago this week.
But the Frenchman maintained control throughout after starting the afternoon with a break of serve.
"I played very good today," said the winner, who improved his head to head to 4-1 over the Serb who is ranked ninth in the world and contending for a place in the eight-man season final in London in November,
"I don't think I could do better. Tipsarevic has been playing amazing tennis the past two seasons and he's hard to defeat. For me this was almost the perfect match."
Simon is bidding to win his second title of 2012 after Bucharest on clay in April. The Frenchman's win was his 38th of the season against 20 defeats.
"It's great to be in a final, that means another tough match," said Simon. "But it also means I've been successful this week.
"It's nice to be playing such good tennis again, I never know when I'm going to be feeling fit so I have to take advantage. With my body, it's not always easy. I can't always count on being healthy."
Results on the sixth day of the ATP Thailand Open on Saturday.
Gilles Simon (FRA x4) bt Janko Tipsarevic (SRB x1) 6-4, 6-4
Richard Gasquet (FRA x2) bt Jarkko Nieminen (FIN x7) 3-6, 7-5, 6-2