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It might be an exhibition event but Bernard Tomic won't be treating it that way when he plays the final of the Kooyong Classic on Saturday.

The 19-year-old defeated French star Gael Monfils 6-4 4-6 7-6 (7-2) on Thursday to earn a showdown with the winner of Friday's match between American Mardy Fish and Austrian Jurgen Melzer.

Tomic's languid, deceptive style frequently caught out the world No.15, who admitted he was not playing at full pace to protect an ongoing knee injury.

Tomic allowed Monfils back into the match with a loose second set and held two match points in the third set which he didn't convert.

"To be honest I forgot about those match points so it was a good thing," said Tomic, who reached last week's Brisbane semis before losing to Britain's Andy Murray.

"If I was thinking about that I wouldn't have done well in that tiebreak and I love playing tiebreakers - I think in my career I'm 85 per cent on winning tiebreakers.

"If I had thought about those match points, God knows what would have happened."

Tomic said the Kooyong event had provided him with the perfect lead-in to next week's Australian Open.

"I felt really good and confident that I was playing much better than when I played Tomas (Berdych, in the first match)," Tomic said. "The last time I played Gael we played for three tough sets so I'm happy with the way I'm playing and my form.

"I started executing my shots better in the third set and I was picking up a lot of confidence. I moved better, better than in the first match and my shots were bigger and better."

Tomic said he's keen to add his name to the list of Kooyong winners which includes Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.

"I'm going to try to use it like any final and try to win. I'll definitely try my heart out," Tomic said. "It's one of the more serious exhibitions and these top players are all training here and getting ready for the start (of the Australian Open) on Monday."

Monfils said Tomic was "doing great" on his progress up the world rankings.

"He's got so much talent. He's very fast to the ball. Here in Australia, you have a good hope," Monfils said. "Sometimes he has this really slow rhythm and sometimes he can hit it, flick it and what is good with him is that he sees the court very good."

Earlier, stand-in player Kei Nishikori defeated Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the young Japanese world No.26 winning 1-6 6-4 6-1.

In the final match, American Andy Roddick defeated Czech Tomas Berdych 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.


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Tomic wins through to Kooyong final
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