Roger Federer advanced to the Kooyong Classic final after a tight 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 victory over Spain's Fernando Verdasco on Thursday.
The world number two, who missed last year's eight-man invitational tournament with glandular fever, will meet either Swiss compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka or Chile's Fernando Gonzalez in Saturday's final.
Wawrinka and Gonzalez play on Friday.
Thirteen-times grand slam tournament winner Federer appeared to want to spend as little time on court as possible and romped to a 5-0 lead in the opening 30 minutes.
Verdasco, however, who had actually held six break points in the fifth game, finally held serve in the sixth then broke Federer to give the crowd a glimmer of hope the match would not be a rout.
Federer clinched the first set in the ninth game.
The second was much tighter, with it staying on serve until the eighth game, when Federer who was 40-0 up inexplicably imploded and handed the Spaniard the opportunity to serve for the set, which he duly completed.
The third set was a tense battle with both holding serve though Verdasco had two break points in the seventh game that he failed to convert and the match went to a tiebreak.
Federer jumped out to a 6-2 lead and was serving for the match before the left-hander rattled off three successive points, though Federer was not to be denied and he sealed the match with an ace.
In an earlier match, 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis finally found his form to beat Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic 7-6, 6-4 in a match that lasted 97 minutes.
Both men had already been eliminated from contention for the title in the progression-relegation tournament after they lost their first round matches on Wednesday.
Baghdatis, however, who had been struggling with a thigh injury last week in Brisbane and seemed sluggish when he lost to Wawrinka 6-2, 6-2, said he was pleased to have finally chalked a win ahead of the Australian Open.
"(The) smile is back, so it's a relief going into the Aussie Open," Baghdatis said of finally chalking a win. "I played two matches here and one in Brisbane (and) I'm starting to feel good.
"It's very important to have some matches on your feet and basically the Classic is good preparation because even if you lose you have had two matches, so I think that's a perfect preparation for the Aussie Open."