John Marks defeated Arthur Ashe, 6-4, 6-2, 2-6, 1-6, 9-7, today to gain the final of the $300,000 Australian Open final.
The center-court crowd of 12,000 gave the players a standing ovation after their 3-hour 40-minute struggle.
In the final, Marks, 26, will meet top-seeded Guillermo Vilas, who disposed of Hank Pfister, 6-2, 6-0, 6-3. Pfister was hampered by a groinmuscle pull.
In Wednesday's women's singles final, Betsy Nagelson faces Chris O'Neill. Nagelson beat Chris Matison, 7-5, 6-4, and O'Neill routed Dianne Ever, 6-0, 6-2, in the semifinals.
Marks blew 3-0 and 4-1 leads in the final set. With the crowd urging him on, Ashe reeled off four straight games to move to a 5-4 lead and serving for the match. He got to 40-15 but the Australian produced three brilliant passing shots to tie the set at 5-5.
Ashe broke Marks' service in the 11th and 13th games, but each time the Australian broke back to stay in the match.
Marks finally held serve in the 15th game -- the first time he had done so for 10 games -- to take an 8-7 lead. Marks reached his first match point with a forehand down the line for 30-40 and clinched the win when another top-spin forehand return forced Ashe to volley into the net.