Former world number one Venus Williams fought back from a set down to see off Italy’s Roberto Vinci 5-7 6-2 7-6(4) and make the final of the Wuhan Open on Friday.
The 35-year-old American, winner of seven grand slam singles titles, will face Garbine Muguruza in the final.
Vinci, who stunned Venus’s little sister Serena in the semi-finals of the U.S. Open last month, had fought back from 3-0 down to take a topsy-turvy first set featuring five breaks of serve.
But she failed to hit the heights thereafter as Venus, who won her 700th match on tour earlier this week, took command in the second set, racing ahead 5-1 before forcing the decider.
An early break put the American up 3-1 in the third set but she stumbled when serving for the match at 5-3, with the Italian, chasing a best ever world ranking of 11th this week, breaking and then holding her own serve to make it 5-5.
It was then Vinci’s turn to wobble when serving for the match. The doubles specialist, who lost the U.S. Open final to compatriot Flavia Pennetta, failed to convert a match point and was broken as Williams forced a tiebreak.
Williams secured an early mini-break as she wrapped the match in just under three hours to reach her 77th career final and first at the fledgling tournament staged in the home town of China’s first grand slam singles champion Li Na.
Muguruza suffered an ankle injury but kept up her bid to qualify for the eight-woman end-of-year WTA Tour finals in Singapore by coming through a hard-fought clash against sixth seed Angelique Kerber.
The Venezuelan-born 21-year-old called the trainer at 3-3 in the second set tiebreaker but recovered to claim the win.