DOHA - World number one Rafael Nadal will appear in the final of the ATP Tour's Qatar Open for the second time after beating surprise package Peter Gojowczyk in a semi-final on Friday.
Nadal's 4-6 6-2 6-3 victory confirmed him as the overwhelming favourite to take the title and do something he has never done before, win a tournament in the opening week of the year.
"A lot of times I have tried here so it will mean a lot to me to succeed finally. Hopefully tomorrow (Saturday) I will play good and will play my best match here," the Spaniard said.
Nadal was rarely near his peak and started poorly, losing the first nine points of the match to the German qualifier.
He moved sluggishly and made 17 unforced errors with his famous forehand drive in the first set alone.
Gojowczyk, who had only previously played four matches on the ATP World Tour and admits to having sought Nadal's autograph at last year's US Open, was patient, methodical, and careful.
He was also capable of sudden dramatic changes of pace with which he could hit strident ground stoke winners.
Nadal will play the winner of the second semi-final between Florian Mayer, the world number 40 who earlier defeated Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, and Gael Monfils, a former finalist in Doha.