Five-times champion Rafa Nadal wore down fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 7-6 6-0 on Saturday to reach the final of the Rome Masters.
The second seed came from 3-1 down to win the first set and then ran away with the second to set up a final against either world number one Novak Djokovic or number two Roger Federer.
Sixth seed Ferrer had the better of an 86-minute first set, but could not push home his advantage as Nadal won the tiebreak 8-6, before running away with the second.
“At the start of the match, David was playing unbelievably,” Nadal said afterwards. “My thought was that the best news for me would probably to be level at 3-3.
“After the first six, seven games then it was more equal because before that he was playing better than me.”
Nadal said he had not played as well as he did in beating Czech Tomas Berdych in the previous round, but used his mental strength to get through the match.
“I was very happy with how I was mentally, because I stayed focused all the time.
“In the second set I started a little bit better and he was a little tired, which is normal after such a difficult first set.”
Nadal has now beaten Ferrer in 12 straight clay-court matches, and the world number six admitted he did not know how to beat him on his favourite surface.
“I was very close in the first set, but against Rafael you have to take your chances and I could not do it,” he said.