It's like he's never been away.
Juan Martin del Potro is one match away from another Auckland title, almost a decade after his last triumph here in 2009.
The Argentine will face Roberto Bautista Agut in today's final, after a couple of outstanding semi finals on Friday night.
Del Potro showed his class to edge crowd favourite David Ferrer 6-4 6-4, while Bautista Agut took a much harder path, eventually trumping Robin Haase 6-7 (7) 7-6(3) 7-5(5) in a match for the ages.
World No 12 Del Potro looks to be finding his groove ahead of the Australian Open.
Read more: Keep a lid on Classic expansion in Auckland
He was pushed hard by Ferrer, broken for the first time this week. But he saved six other break point opportunities, despite struggling on serve, landing only 43 per cent of first serves in the match which lasted 105 minutes.
"I'm happy," said Del Potro. "It's not easy to reach a final on tour and I did it playing good tennis, beating one of the tougher guys on tour."
"The difference was a couple of points. I got lucky to break his serve twice and I held my serve in all of the second set, saving break points, playing good tennis. I had to take a risk playing against David because he is a fighter and he runs a lot and that's the way to beat him."
Del Potro's forehand remains one of the best weapons in the sport; he was almost impeccable off that wing on Friday, blazing winners whenever Ferrer lacked depth on a groundstroke.
Read more: Michael Venus out of ASB Classic doubles
"It's the best part of my game," said Del Potro. "I have to take risks with my forehand because nobody talks about my backhand. "
He'll be the heavy favourite on Saturday against Bautista Agut but the 2016 ASB Classic champion shouldn't be discounted.
"I would like to repeat for sure but Bautista is a dangerous player," said Del Potro. "He has experience in finals and he beat me in the past so it will be difficult for me."
Del Potro's match finished just before 11pm on Friday night, but he shrugged off concerns about backing up at 2:30pm on Saturday afternoon.
"I will be okay," said the 29-year-old. "I have enough time to recover and in the final no pain matters."
Read more: As it happened: ASB Classic semi finals