Del Potro, Bautista to meet in final By

Bautista Agut

The second-seeded del Potro will aim for his first Classic title since 2009, while the 29-year-old Bautista Agut will seek his second crown in three years.

Del Potro, who sealed the Auckland title in 2009, shone in the key moments and fought off six of the seven break points Ferrer forged in a tense clash, with two games in the second set lasting nearly 10 minutes apiece.

Earlier, fifth seed Bautista Agut outlasted Dutchman Robin Haase in an epic clash that took nearly three hours before the Spaniard produced an audacious backhand lob that kissed the baseline to clinch the 6-7 (7) 7-6 (3) 7-6 (5) win.

"Juan Martin is very tough to beat and I think I just played two awesome games at the end of the match".

"I was playing every match during the night and today was really hard, to play with this sun and humidity - I felt it a lot, in the start of the match".

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The Spanish player swept through the first set in only 31 minutes as del Potro seemed to struggle in warm conditions on a packed center court.

"I have many good things to celebrate - of course, when you lose in a final, it's not happiness, but the tennis life continues".

Del Potro beat Russian Karen Khachanov 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 in his quarter-final.

Del Potro is seeded 12th in the Australian Open with Bautista Agut 20th, but it was the Spaniard who was in command in Auckland. He moved so much better than me from the baseline. "But then my game improved a little bit and I made mistakes in the last game", del Potro said.

That was to be the last blip of the match for the Argentine, though, as he comfortably served out the first set and required just a single break in the second, saving five break points en route to victory. Juan Martin was there to fight until the final point, creating a break point that could set up the deciding tie break, but he was denied by an ace from Roberto, one of his most important shots of the day.

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