Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was denied a first ATP Tour final appearance since October 2017 as he was beaten 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 by Daniil Medvedev in the last four of the Brisbane International on Saturday.
The former world number five saw his 2018 season wrecked by injury and approached this tournament ranked 239th, but he found his form again in Australia to move within reach of a 29th Tour final - his first since Vienna the year before last.
It was not to be, though, as fourth seed Medvedev instead joined Kei Nishikori in Sunday's showpiece match after recovering from a tricky start at Pat Rafter Arena.
Tsonga staved off three break points in the opening game and responded in fine fashion, breaking himself and surging into a 3-0 lead.
But Medvedev offered a strong riposte, levelling the set and then holding with increasing ease to set up a tiebreak, where Tsonga again let slip a firm grip on proceedings as two set points came and went before his opponent closed out the opener.
And the match quickly got away from Tsonga as he was broken again at the start of the second, with the Frenchman subsequently unable to turn the tide and losing another service game to seal the result.
Second seed Nishikori had confirmed his place in the final earlier in the day when he required just 66 minutes to beat Jeremy Chardy.
Nishikori, who last won a Tour title in 2016, made light work of his opponent 6-2 6-2 in the day session.
"There is nothing better than this," the Japanese said afterwards. "I felt like I was too fast on the court - now, I will go for a trophy."