Australian John Millman has come from a set down to beat American Frances Tiafoe and make it into the Astana Open final, where he’ll face Adrian Mannarino.
Brisbane’s Millman has produced another typically battling effort coming from a set down to beat Tiafoe 3-6 6-4 6-4.
Millman, who had pulled off a remarkable fightback the previous day by saving two match points and coming from 5-0 down in a deciding tiebreak against another American Tommy Paul, demonstrated his grit once again on Saturday.
“I definitely didn’t want to play three sets. I was pretty tired after yesterday’s match. It was tough out there today with really physical tennis,” said Millman in an on-court interview. “Frances is a top player. He is obviously so dangerous.”
In the final, Millman will face Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, who defeated Finnish qualifier Emil Ruusuvuori 7-5 6-2 to reach his 10th ATP Tour final.
“Adrian Mannarino is an established Top 100 player… He is very comfortable on these courts,” said Millman.
“He is a lefty, so tough to break down… I am really glad that I can be in a position to play for the title.
“It is so hard to make finals in ATP events. It has been a really unexpected surprise, but in every tournament you go out there to hopefully try and win it. I am glad I am in a position to.”
Millman will be attempting to capture his first tour-level trophy after runner-up finishes in Budapest in 2018 and Tokyo last year.
The 31-year-old, who had lost a recent U.S. Open clash with Tiafoe in a tough five-setter, may have feared that his first semi-final appearance in a year might go the same way when the American broke his serve twice en route to taking the opening set in 39 minutes.
Yet Millman, who was holding a 2-1 career advantage over the 22-year-old Tiafoe, regrouped and, with the scores locked at 4-4 in the second, eked out his crucial first break.
When Tiafoe raced into a 3-0 lead in the decider, the 31-year-old Australian, for the second day running, had to call on all his reserves of determination to claw the match back to 3-3.
Fourth-seeded Millman then finally converted the last of four break points in the ninth game to swing the match decisively his way before wrapping up victory in two hours and seven minutes.
Mannarino saved four of five break points before beating Ruusuvuori and has yet to drop a set this week in Nur-Sultan.
The encouraging news for Millman, though, is that he owns a 2-0 career advantage over the Frenchman, including a win at this year’s Western and Southern Open.