Murray's greater consistency proved key against the Spaniard
Andy Murray got the better of home favourite Fernando Verdasco to reach the final of the Valencia Open.
The Scot, in his first event back after a six-week lay-off with a wrist injury, came through 6-3 2-6 6-3.
"I managed to stay strong because he hit some really big winners and put some pressure on me," said Murray.
Murray now chases his sixth title of 2009 in Sunday's final against Russian Mikhail Youzhny, who beat second seed Nikolay Davydenko 3-6 6-4 6-3.
Verdasco looked the stronger early on and Murray was forced to come from 15-40 down in the sixth game to level the match at 3-3.
In the next game, Murray earned three break points before a delightful backhand angled shot forced another error from Verdasco and the Scot broke to go 4-3 ahead and went on to wrap up the set.
But the Spaniard fought back well in the second set, earning a double break to lead 4-1 and it was not long before he secured the set when Murray could do nothing with a rasping serve.
Murray seemed to be troubled by a hip injury early in the deciding set but he started to give Verdasco some problems on his serve with Verdasco having to work hard to make it 2-2.
Verdasco then let his concentration slip in the sixth game and Murray capitalised for a crucial 4-2 advantage and he went on to set up a second career meeting with Youzhny.
In the first semi-final, Youzhny took advantage of several unforced errors by his fellow Russian to win the second set, then broke Davydenko in his first two service games in the third.
Davydenko made the better start and broke for a 3-1 lead in the first set. The players then traded breaks before Davydenko served out the set to love after Youzhny sent a backhand long.
Davydenko, who was chasing a fourth victory in five meetings with Youzhny, rallied from a break down to level at 4-4 in the second but Youzhny took the next two games to even the match.
Youzhny maintained the momentum at the start of the final set and reached his fifth final of the season when Davydenko netted on match point.
Elsewhere, world number three Novak Djokovic saved three match points before beating Radek Stepanek to reach the final of the Swiss Indoors in Basle.
Djokovic has won three titles already in 2009
The Serbian was made to battle all the way before triumphing 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-2 to set up a final meeting with top seed and world number one Roger Federer.
Federer defeated unseeded compatriot and childhood friend Marco Chiudinelli 7-6 (9-7) 6-3.
Federer will be aiming for a fourth straight title in the event in Sunday's final.
Chiudinelli saved a set point in a tough opening set but then was passed on one of his own before Federer landed the tie-breaker.
Federer then took a 4-1 lead in the second set on his way to a 59th victory this season.
After Djokovic lost the opening set of his match on a tie-break, the second set went with serve until a dramatic 10th game when Stepanek held a 40-0 lead and three match points on the Djokovic serve.
But somehow the second seed regained his composure and managed to save all three to hold serve, then broke his opponent in the following game with a cross-court pass.
He then produced another break at the start of the third set as a shaken Stepanek, who had dominated much of the match, lost his nerve.
"I wouldn't say necessarily it was my good shots that prevented the loss. It was luck only," said Djokovic.
"I just tried to get some first serves in and at least get that advantage. On this (hard-court) surface, it's crucial."
Federer leads Djokovic 9-4 in their career meetings and they have shared their four matches this year.