Alberto Mancini, a former Italian Open champion who had to qualify this year, reached the final Saturday with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over fifth-seeded Sergi Bruguera.
Mancini's opponent Sunday will be ninth-seeded Emilio Sanchez, a 6-4, 6-2 winner over Goran Prpic of Yugoslavia.This is the first time a player coming out of a qualifying round has ever reached the final.
"I really never expected to come this far," said the Argentine, who plummeted to No. 127 in the computer rankings last year. He was as high as eighth in 1989 when he won this tournament.
"Starting from where I started you just can't hope to reach the finals."
Outhitting Bruguera from the baseline, Mancini defused the 19-year-old Spaniard, driving him back off the court with stinging topspin groundstrokes, and demoralizing him with well-stroked winners.
"I was trying to keep the pressure on him," said Mancini, 21, who lost all three of his previous matches against Bruguera.In Berlin, Jennifer Capriati defeated Julie Halard of France 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday and moved into the semifinals of the Lufthansa Cup in Berlin.
Capriati, seeded seventh, next will face fifth-seeded Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, who easily defeated 16-year-old Anke Huber of Germany, 6-0, 6-2.
Huber pulled off the biggest surprise of the tournament far by defeating second-seeded Gabriela Sabatini in the third round play on Friday.