Auckland - Tennys Sandgren is heading to the Australian Open in career-best form after beating Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-2 to reach the ASB Classic final on Friday.
Sandgren beat former champion Kohlschreiber to play in his second ATP Tour final, after the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships last April.
In Saturday's final he will face British wild card Cameron Norrie who reached his first ATP final by defeating Jan-Lennard Struff 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
Sandgren used the Auckland hard-court tournament last year as a springboard to his best Grand Slam performance, the quarter-finals of the Australian Open a week after falling in the ASB Classic second round.
He was dominant throughout Friday's match against Kohlschreiber, who won the Auckland tournament in 2008 and was runner-up in 2013.
Sandgren relied heavily on his service game, winning all but two points on first serve across both sets. He rushed his groundstrokes at first, making nine unforced errors in the first four games. But when he settled down, he chased down everything.
Kohlschreiber tried to upset Sandgren's momentum with drop shots and subtle angles but the American reached everything and put away winners both from deep and at the net.
That was most evident when he broke Kohlschreiber in the third game of the second set, first retrieving a drop shot which seemed out of his reach, then finishing with a lob to the distant corner of the court.
"Basically, I just closed my eyes and swung and a lot of the balls went in so that was good," Sandgren joked.
"It's nice to see the hard work I've put in in the last month and a half come to fruition.
"Philipp's a good player and he kinda tuned me up the last time we played so to feel like I may be improving and getting better is a good feeling."
Norrie was born in South Africa and plays for Britain but was raised in Auckland and considers it his hometown. He maintained a strong service game which helped him home as both players visibly tired in the third set, especially Struff who played three long sets in his quarterfinal.
Norrie served 18 aces to Struff's nine which gave him a valuable edge.
"I was a little bit zapped in the second set but I was like, 'Look, it's such an honour to be playing on this court where I grew up.' So I was just going to fight for every point and give my everything and I ended up getting out on top."
Results from day five of the ATP Tour's Auckland Classic tennis tournament on Friday:
Tennys Sandgren (USA) bt Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 6-4, 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) bt Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 7-5, 4-6, 6-3