Alexander Zverev felt a patient approach paid off against John Isner as he made sure not to miss out on the knockout stages of the ATP Finals for a second successive year.
German Zverev failed to qualify for the semi-finals in 2017 after losing his final group match, going down in a three-set thriller against Jack Sock at the O2.
However, the world number five made sure history was not repeated when facing another American opponent this year, recording a 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 triumph over John Isner to set up a clash with Roger Federer on Saturday.
In a tightly fought contest, the 21-year-old from Hamburg recorded the only break against the big-serving Isner, who bowed out of the season-ending tournament with a third straight defeat.
"Against John, you have to be patient. There are going to be a lot of games where you really don't touch the ball on his serve," Zverev told Sky Sports.
"That's what happened for one and a half sets basically, so you've really got to take your chances when you get them.
"I did that well today and I'm very happy to be through to get another chance to play tomorrow."
Zverev admitted the memories of losing to Sock at the same venue a year earlier had motivated him ahead of his final outing in Group Guga Kuerten.
"I was in the same position last year against Jack Sock and missed my opportunity to go through," he added.
"I really wanted to do it differently this year, I really wanted to come out and be aggressive, play the best game I can and give myself the best possible chance to be in the semi-finals."
In the other last-four clash, top seed Novak Djokovic will take on Kevin Anderson of South Africa.
|Southee happy to be back on home soil|
|I wouldn´t swap Dembele for Neymar – Pires|
|Canelo ready to risk heavy weather against Fielding|
|Raptors upstage Warriors, Davis leads Pelicans with 44 points|
|India skipper Kohli excited by green Perth wicket|
|PSG? I haven´t decided my future yet – De Jong|
|Marcelo: Real Madrid don´t have attitude problem|
|India pair Ashwin, Rohit ruled out of second Test|
|Kovac: Ajax-Bayern draw was amazing|
|Sims re-signs with Dragons until 2022|
|Derrius Guice injury update: Redskins RB (knee) has rehab setback, undergoes 3 more procedures|
|Emery: Arsenal could sign defender in January|
|Phillies sign McCutchen to three-year deal|
|O´Neal thinks his Lakers teams could ´easily´ beat Warriors|
|A-League to add two clubs by 2020|
|Curry says he was ´obviously joking´ about moon landing comments|
|Now the beautiful part starts – Ronaldo ready for Champions League knockout stage|
|Bayern have a lot more potential – Lewandowski not satisfied despite top spot|
|Lyon star Fekir shares plaudits for Champions League progression|
|Mourinho not surprised by United´s defeat to Valencia|
|Motivation no issue for Benfica, claims Vitoria|
|Lewandowski finishes Champions League group stage as top scorer|
|Mourinho: We scored two goals and lost 2-1!|
|England have a diamond - Guardiola hails City´s Foden|
|Sterling´s carefree display invites us to love football more than others hate|
|Juventus achieved their objective, despite everything going wrong – Allegri|
|Never say never - Schmidt not ruling out All Blacks role|
|Bologna´s winning start ended in BCL|
|Di Francesco critical of Roma performance|
|Shakhtar Donetsk 1 Lyon 1: Fekir fires French side through in Group F|
|Benfica 1 AEK Athens 0: Grimaldo sends hosts out on a high|
|Young Boys 2 Juventus 1: Hoarau double seals famous victory|
|Manchester City 2 Hoffenheim 1: City through as group winners after Sane brace|
|Ajax 3 Bayern Munich 3: Kovac´s men clinch top spot in Amsterdam thriller|
|Valencia 2 Manchester United 1: Jones scores own goal as Red Devils limp through|
|Solari accepts responsibility for Madrid´s heaviest home defeat in Europe|
|WATCH: Rooney backs Rocky ahead of Canelo showdown|
|McLaren to collaborate with Team Bahrain Merida|
|Las Vegas to host 2020 NFL Draft|
|Stade teenager tragically dies after neck injury|
|Cahill may need to leave Chelsea if he wants to play, admits Sarri|
|Viktoria Plzen 2 Roma 1: Chory winner takes hosts into Europa League|
|Real Madrid 0 CSKA Moscow 3: Champions humiliated at Bernabeu|
|Sarri condemns ´disgusting´ Sterling abuse|
|Hansen hails outstanding Ben Smith ahead of Pau switch|
|Foden, Sterling start for Manchester City v Hoffenheim|
|Sky decision will not affect us in 2019, insist Froome and Thomas|
|Al Ain 3 Team Wellington 3 (aet, 4-3 on penalties): Shootout heartbreak for semi-pros in Club World|
|Jackson to remain Ravens´ starting QB despite Flacco return|
|Rams headline 2019 NFL International Series home teams|
|Rams headline International Series home teams for 2019|
|Atlanta want ´exciting football´ from new boss amid Bielsa links|
|Atlanta still yet to receive ´serious´ bid for ´Bale-like´ Almiron|
|Tottenham v Manchester United to be held at Wembley|
|Matip facing six weeks out with fractured collarbone|
|I´ve had quite a lot of calls – Brailsford encouraged by Team Sky interest|
|Afghanistan Football Federation president provisionally banned by FIFA|
|Knee injury rules Huddersfield´s Mooy out of Asian Cup|
|Arnautovic tipped for Man United move by Austria team-mate Sabitzer|
|Arsenal legend Adams to become RFL president|
|My love for football still burns strong – Toure speaks out amid talk of Premier League return|
|Noble contract extended to 2021|
|Split with Sky is an opportunity, says Brailsford|
|Van der Burgh rolls back the years, two more medals for Hosszu|
|Maitland-Niles praises Sterling for speaking out|
|Life is tough for him right now - Celtic striker Griffiths to take time away from football|
|Froome: Team Sky keen to continue with new partner|
|Emery confirms Koscielny to play against Qarabag|
|Llorente keen on Athletic return|
|I love the guy - Pocock backs under-pressure Cheika|