Marin Cilic relied on a dominant serve to beat fellow Croat Ivan Ljubicic 6-4, 6-3 and reach the China Open final on Saturday.
Cilic, the losing finalist two years ago, said his game really got going when he got the first break against Ljubicic.
"When that first break came I started to serve better and the beginning of the second set was really crucial," said the 23-year-old.
"He had few break points and I started to serve maybe the best that I ever served."
Cilic will meet Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Tomas Berdych in the final at the newly opened Centre Court at China's National Tennis Centre in Beijing.
In the women's draw, Andrea Petkovic produced a clinical 6-2, 6-0 victory over Romanian Monica Niculescu to set up a final against Agnieszka Radwanska after the Pole beat Flavia Pennetta.
Italian Pennetta could not rekindle the blistering form that saw her take out World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in Friday's quarter-finals and slumped to a 6-2, 6-4 defeat.