Andy Murray beat Andy Roddick in the SAP Open semi-final for the second straight year to set up a final showdown with Croatia's Ivo Karlovic.
Murray beat Roddick at the same stage last year on his way to his first ATP title
Murray saved a series of set-points in a first-set tie-break before clinching the set with a backhand pass.
And a single break in the second set was enough for Murray to clinch a 7-6 (10-8) 6-4 win over the top seed.
"In the tie-break, obviously he had a couple of set points but after that I felt in control," said Murray.
"I returned well, I passed well and got into a lot of his service games and apart from one service game in the first set I think I played a good match."
Murray's only ATP tour title came in last year's SAP Open when he followed victory over Roddick with another impressive win over Lleyton Hewitt.
He can hit passing shots from any position
Roddick was full of praise for Murray
It is a measure of Murray's progress that he was then still ranked outside the world's top 50.
Now he is firmly established in the top echelon of the game and this was his third victory over Roddick in four meetings.
"Last year was my first really big win against a top-five player," Murray said.
"Since then I think I'm maybe 6-3 against top-five players so it's not as much of a shock to me."
Murray matched Roddick for power, firing 14 aces to the American's nine, and was able to produce when it mattered, saving five of six break points.
Roddick, the 2004 and 2005 champion, was left to rue those missed opportunities.
"I feel like in the first set I gave myself more than my fair share of chances and I didn't convert them, so I deserved to lose," Roddick said.
And Roddick was full of praise for Murray's ability.
"He handles pace well," said Roddick.
"He can hit passing shots from any position. He is great at playing defence from tough positions, he moves well and even when he is on the run he is able to create something."
Murray's final opponent Karlovic is the tallest player on the Tour at 6ft 10in and his serve is a potent weapon.
He served 27 aces on his way to a 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 win against Benjamin Becker in the other semi-final.
"I was serving really good, that was the key," Karlovic said, after taking his aces tally to 87 for the week.
"But I also think in the crucial moments I returned well too."
Karlovic had already beaten James Blake and Mardy Fish on his way to the last four and is playing some of the best tennis of his career.
Andy Murray's brother Jamie reached the doubles final in San Jose with partner Eric Butorac.
They beat Scott Lipsky and David Martin 6-4 7-6 (9-7) and will now face Rainer Schuettler and Chris Haggard.