World no. 31 Andrey Rublev is through into the fourth ATP final and the first at home, toppling former champion Marin Cilic 7-5, 6-4 in an hour and 32 minutes. Andrey defeated Marin in Miami in March and was the better player today as well, losing serve twice but making a lot of damage on the return to create 11 opportunities and convert four, enough to go through in straight sets.
The encounter started with seven easy holds on both sides before the more experienced player earned a break with a backhand winner that sent him 5-3 up. 2019 has not been Marin's season, demonstrating that again in the rest of the set as he netted a routine forehand to suffer a break while serving for the set in game nine.
It was enough to shift all the momentum to the other side of the net, wasting game points at 5-5 and allowing Andrey to grab the second break after an incredible rally and a backhand winner. The Russian fended off a break point in the 12th game and closed the set on the third opportunity when Cilic's backhand landed into the net.
The second set kicked off with back-to-back breaks and it was Rublev who defended his service games effectively by the end of it, securing a break at 4-4 when Marin's backhand landed long and sealing the deal with a hold in game ten following another fundamental error from the Croatian.
For the second year in a row, Adrian Mannarino will compete against the Russian player in the Moscow final, defeating Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-4 in 75 minutes for the ninth ATP title match overall. The same rivals battled in the semi-final here a year ago and the Frenchman crossed the finish line first again for the fifth triumph over Seppi in nine matches, dropping ten points in ten service games to avoid troubles on serve and keeping the pressure on the Italian veteran who couldn't endure it.
Struggling on the second serve, Andreas got broken once in each set, enough to propel Adrian through and finish his run in the semis. With five rock-solid holds in the first set, Mannarino had the upper hand and grabbed a break in game two after a very long exchange that gave him an early lead.
A left-hander held at 5-3 when Andreas netted a forehand and nothing changed in set number two, with Mannarino who broke in the first game after a 49-shot rally that determined the winner of the set. Adrian sailed towards the finish line with five smooth service games, hoping for more of the same against Andrey on Sunday.