The three-time champion is into his fourth final after a 6-3 victory at the Barbican in York.
Ding had dished out a 6-0 thrashing to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals as the world No 1 suffered a first whitewash in a Triple Crown event in his 30-year career and led 5-0 in his semi-final before Ford hit back.
Ding told the World Snooker Tour: “I missed a great chance to win 6-0. I picked the wrong choices with the colour balls and he started playing more relaxed. I took my eye off a little bit and maybe lost a little concentration.
“He didn’t miss anything in the last few frames. I like to play here, since the first time I beat Steve Davis in 2005, I love this venue. I always feel good in the Barbican.”
Ding is aiming to win the title he last claimed in 2019 and raced into a 5-0 lead as another whitewash looked on the cards.
But world No 32 Ford, who beat Joe Perry 6-4 in his quarter-final, hit back to bring the score to 5-3 with breaks of 77, 64 and 64.
Another 64 break gave him the chance to make it 5-4 but Ding counter-cleared to take the ninth frame 75-64 and reach Sunday’s final.
He will face Mark Allen or Jack Lisowski who play in the other semi on Saturday night.