Forget the Australian Open, Juan Martin del Potro only has eyes for Bernard Tomic and the Sydney International title.
The world No.5 powered into the 26th final of his career on Friday with a 6-4 6-2 demolition of Russian fourth seed Dmitry Tursunov – before warning all and sundry any talk of the Open was taboo.
Del Potro, who plays a qualifier in the first round in Melbourne, insisted he hadn’t seen the draw for the season’s first major and didn’t want to know about it.
“I’m trying to be professional. This tournament is not over yet for me,” he said.
“I have an important match tomorrow, so I try to just be focused on this tournament, on this draw, this schedule.
“And my team already knows they’re not allowed to talk about Melbourne yet. My friends, too.
“If I can be focused just on one tournament, it’s much better for me.”
Del Potro will take on Tomic in Saturday’s title match after the Australian wildcard shoved the spectre of Rafael Nadal to the back of his mind to squeeze out a fighting three-set win over qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky.
Tomic needed two hours and 13 minutes to prevail 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-3 and give himself a shot at becoming the first Australian to successfully defend his crown in Sydney since four-time champion Lleyton Hewitt in 2005.
Tomic mustn’t have received the news he’d drawn the top-ranked Nadal in the first round of the Australian Open until just before four o’clock on Friday.
It was precisely then he was cruising at 3-0 and 40-love in the first set against Stakhovsky.
Then he suddenly lost his focus, allowing the world No.101 to hold serve, break back in the seventh game and take the set in a tiebreaker.
But despite calling for the trainer and looking fatigued, Tomic dug deep to snatch the second set and break the Ukrainian twice more in the decider to extend his winning streak to nine matches at Sydney Olympic Park.
“I know Tomic is in a good tournament,” del Potro said.
“He already won this tournament last year, so he must feel confidence.
“He’s very smart to play. He has everything to be in the higher ranking very soon.
“He’s a local guy, so he has a little advantage on the rest.
“In the final, everything can happen. Doesn’t matter who’s the favourite on the paper.”