KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- The setting, the weather, and the crowd favored Andre Agassi. Against Roger Federer, that wasn't enough.
As usual, the top-ranked Federer rose to the occasion and beat Agassi, 6-4, 6-3, in last night's Nasdaq-100 Open semifinals.
Federer hit 30 winners and escaped his biggest jam of the night with three aces in one game to reach the final. He'll bid for his first Key Biscayne title tomorrow against 18-year-old Rafael Nadal, who advanced by beating fellow Spaniard David Ferrer, 6-4, 6-3.
The evening was warm and humid -- conditions Agassi prefers. He was playing in a tournament he has won six times, on the hardcourt surface he likes best. And a capacity stadium crowd chanted his name, rooting for an upset.
None of it fazed Federer.
"I had to come up with the right shots at the right time," he said. "I felt the heat out here with the fans behind him. It was extremely tough."
"He only gives you a couple of chances, and I didn't execute," said Agassi. "But [the fans] were great, been with me for 19 incredible years here."
Federer extended his winning streak to 21 matches and improved to 31-1 this year, the best start on the men's tour since John McEnroe was 39-0 in 1984. He has won 17 consecutive finals.
"He's playing levels above everybody else," Agassi said. "He has proved that for a while now."
Unseeded Kim Clijsters, staging a remarkable comeback from a wrist injury that threatened her career, will try for her second title in two weeks when she plays No. 2-seeded Maria Sharapova in the women's final today.
Agassi, seeded ninth, played Federer on even terms for the first nine games, and the only breakpoint chance of the opening set came on the final point. A 29-shot rally finally pulled Agassi off the court, and he yanked a crosscourt forehand inches wide to lose serve and the set.
It was the first set Agassi had dropped in the tournament.
Federer placed his shots so precisely he landed one shot on one sideline, then hit his next stroke on the other sideline for a winner. As the match slipped away, Agassi quibbled about calls, grimaced, shook his head and waved his hands in dismay.
Nadal became the youngest man to reach a final at Key Biscayne. Seeded 29th, Nadal won his 15th match in a row by beating the unseeded Ferrer.
Globe correspondent Bud Collins contributed to this report.