SYDNEY — South Africa's Kevin Anderson beat Julien Benneteau of France 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8) on Friday in a match between players separated by a single ranking point to reach the final of the Sydney International.
Last year's runner-up, Benneteau edged Anderson by the single point to claim the 32nd and last seeding place at next week's Australian Open after Anderson passed up the chance to earn ranking points by representing South Africa at the Hopman Cup. Anderson gained a small measure of revenge Friday when he beat Benneteau in a thrilling match of almost 21/2; hours. He will now face the winner of the second semifinal between Australia's Bernard Tomic and third-seeded Andreas Seppi.
At Auckland, New Zealand, top-seeded David Ferrer beat Gael Monfils 6-1, 6-2 today to reach the final of the Heineken Open.
Ferrer will meet Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber in the final.
Ferrer has the chance to match the record of Australian great Roy Emerson by winning the Auckland title four times, including three straight championships.
Second-seeded Kohlschreiber had a tougher task to reach the final, having to handle the powerful serve of fourth-seeded American Sam Querrey before winning 6-4, 7-6 (2).
Kohlschreiber will be attempting to win in Auckland for the second time after taking the 2008 singles title.
Ferrer's path to the final was eased by the fact Monfils had to battle another of the injuries that have recently affected his career.
Monfils' ranking dropped to 99 during 2012 as he had a series of injury setbacks and he needed a wild card to make the Auckland main draw.
Monfils' injury does not appear likely to threaten his Australian Open run.
"David is an incredible player and today I was very tired," Monfils said. "Against a player like that he's very powerful and it's very physical."
Kohlschreiber broke Querrey in the third game of the first set and took the set in 26 minutes. After a service break apiece, Kohlschreiber swept to a 6-0 lead in the second set tiebreak and closed out the set in 42 minutes. "I have to say it was a really great match from my side," Kohlschreiber said. "I played unbelievable."
At Hobart, Australia, unseeded Russian Elena Vesnina defeated American teenager Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-2 today to reach the final of the Hobart International.
Vesnina needed 69 minutes to beat the 19-year-old Stephens to reach her seventh WTA Tour final.
The 26-year-old Vesnina will meet the winner of Friday's late semifinal between defending champion Mona Barthel of Germany and Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium. Vesnina controlled her semifinal from the outset, breaking Stephens in the opening game and racing to a 5-0 lead in less than 20 minutes. Stephens saved three set points in a brief rally, but couldn't stop Vesnina's dominance.
At Melbourne, Australia, former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro beat Marcos Baghdatis 6-4, 6-1 today to set up a final against Lleyton Hewitt at the Kooyong Classic, an exhibition tournament ahead of the Australian Open.
The seventh-ranked del Potro has beaten Hewitt, a former No. 1 and the 2011 Kooyong champion, in two of their three previous matches. The 31-year-old Hewitt, preparing for his 17th Australian Open, beat No. 6-ranked Tomas Berdych on Thursday to secure his spot in the final. In Friday's other match at the promotion-relegation tournament, Fabio Fognini of Italy beat big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-4.