With his back against the wall, Italy's Matteo Berrettini raised his level on serve to overcome American Mackenzie McDonald 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-3 and reach the final at the Tennis Napoli Cup, here on Saturday.
In a hard-fought clash at the ATP 250 event, Berrettini struggled on serve in the first set and was troubled by a foot injury, receiving a medical timeout at 2-5 in the opener.
However, the second seed stuck to the task at hand and slowly turned the match around. He fired 10 aces and struck 30 winners across the second and third sets to advance after two hours and 25 minutes on home soil.
"I don't even know how I did it. I wasn't feeling very good. I asked for the physio because my foot was hurting. It happened so many times in my career that I had to fight through so many things, not just thinking about the tennis ball," Berrettini said in his on-court interview.
"I didn't want to retire. My team told me 'I think you should stop'. But I tried and I found a way," he added.
With his victory, Berrettini climbed to 13th in the ATP Live Race To Turin on 2,375 points. The 26-year-old, currently 690 points behind seventh-placed Felix Auger-Aliassime, will need a strong end to the season to give him a chance of qualifying for the ATP Finals for the third time.
Berrettini, who did not drop a set in his opening two matches in Naples, will face Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic or countryman Lorenzo Musetti in the final on Sunday.
The second seed is chasing his third tour-level title of the season this week, after triumphing on the grass in Stuttgart and The Queen's Club.