The 26-year-old Alexandre Muller came to Marrakech with three ATP wins on his tally. World no. 126 defeated four rivals at the ATP 250 event to advance into his first ATP final. Muller faced the Russian Pavel Kotov in the semi-final and earned a tight 7-6, 7-5 win in two hours and one minute for a career-best result.
Muller won five points more than Kotov and prevailed in the crucial moments of both sets to seal the deal and set the title clash against Roberto Carballes Baena. Alexandre played better behind the second serve and defended five out of eight break points.
He pushed Pavel's second serve to the limits and seized four out of five chances to seal the deal in straight sets. The Russian led 5-3 in the second set before dropping four consecutive games to end his run in the last four.
Both players served well in the encounter's opening eight games to remain locked at 4-4. Muller held at 30 in the sixth game to level the score at 3-3 and held at 15 two games later to follow the rival's pace.
Alexandre Muller is through to his first ATP final in Marrakech.
The Frenchman stepped in on the return in the ninth game to grab a break at 15 and serve for the opener. Kotov saved a set point in the tenth game with a smash winner and the second after Muller's double fault. The Russian seized the fifth break chance after the rival's double fault to pull the break back and extend the set.
They served well in games 11 and 12 to introduce a tie break and increase the drama. Alexandre moved 5-3 up with a deep backhand return and grabbed another mini-break for three set points. Muller converted the first with a volley winner at the net to wrap up the opener in 67 minutes.
Pavel made a strong start in the second set and grabbed the opening eight points for a 2-0 lead. Muller broke back in game four before experiencing another loose service game to find himself 3-2 down. Pavel forced Alexandre's mistake in the sixth game and opened a 4-2 gap, looking good to force a decider.
The Russian held at love in game eight for 5-3, forcing the Frenchman to serve to stay in the set. Kotov served for the set at 5-4 and netted a routine forehand to lose serve and momentum. Muller held in game 11 for 6-5 and earned two match points with a great pass at 30-15 in the next one.
Pavel netted another forehand on the first to drop serve for the second straight time and propel Alexandre into the final.
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