The 3rd and 4th seeds Adrian Mannarino and John Millman will fight for the inaugural Astana Open title in Kazakhstan. The Frenchman has been the player to beat so far in Nur-Sultan, winning all three matches in straight sets and advancing to his tenth ATP final, the first since Moscow last October.
In the semis, Adrian took down the first-time ATP semi-finalist Emil Ruusuvuori from Finland, ousting the youngster 7-5, 6-2 in an hour and 40 minutes. It was their first meeting and Mannarino had the upper hand after fending off four out of five break chances, earning 46% of the return points to grab four breaks from eight opportunities.
Emil served at 71% but his second serve let him down completely, falling in the closing stages of the opening set and losing steam in the second to hit the exit door and miss a chance of reaching the maiden ATP final. The youngster netted a backhand in the first game to give serve away, converting the third break chance in game four following a terrible backhand from the Frenchman to level the score at 2-2.
Both players served well in the next six games to stay locked at 5-5 before Ruusuvuori sprayed a forehand error to get broken and push the rival 6-5 in front. Serving for the set, a left-hander brought the 12th game home with a service winner, gaining a massive boost ahead of set number two.
The Finn sent a forehand long to suffer a break at love in the first game of the second set, allowing Mannarino to confirm the advantage with a service winner in game two. Adrian secured another break in game five when Emil hit a double fault, forging a 5-1 advantage with a hold at love and serving for the victory at 5-2.
Ruusuvuori wasted two break chances and Mannarino sealed the deal with another crafty service winner to book the place in the tenth ATP final and the first in more than a year. John Millman will seek the first career title, beating Frances Tiafoe 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and six minutes.
Adrian Mannarino and John Millman are the last players standing in Nur-Sultan.
It was the fourth tight clash between these two and John avenged the US Open loss, dropping only 12 points behind the initial shot in sets two and three to leave Frances behind.
Both players scored three breaks, and Millman produced his return magic in the more important moments, creating 13 opportunities and keeping Tiafoe under constant pressure in sets two and three. Frances claimed the opener with a double break at 3-3, losing ground at 4-4 in set number two as John served well and waited for a chance on the return patiently.
Like in set number two, the Aussie clinched a break at 4-4 and moved over the top with a commanding serve a few minutes later, taking another big step towards the first ATP crown at 31.