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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, November 1, 2020

John Millman

John Millman rolled through eight of the last nine games defeating Adrian Mannarino 7-5, 6-1 to capture his first career title in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

Photo credit: Kazakhstan Tennis Federation Facebook

Tennis marathon man John Millman reached the title promised land with a determined sprint.

Millman rolled through eight of the final nine games defeating Adrian Mannarino 7-5, 6-1 to capture his first career ATP title at the Astana Open in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

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Fourteen years after his pro debut, the 31-year-old Millman is a champion.

“To all the team back home that’s littered around the world, thank you for always supporting me not just in the good times but the tough times,” Millman said. “This is my first ATP 250 that I’ve won and it’s really special that I could do it in Nur Sultan. Massive thank you. I’ve enjoyed every minute of being a guest in this great country. Thank you.”

The Nur-Sultan of swing truly earned his breakthrough championship showing strong staying power throughout this title run.

The Brisbane baseliner saved two match points then rallied from 0-5 down in the decisive tiebreaker surging through seven straight points to stun Tommy Paul 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(5) in the quarterfinals. Yesterday, a strong-willed Millman rallied from 0-3 down in the decider winning six of the last seven games to top Frances Tiafoe 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 and fight into his third career final.

Contesting his first final in a year, Millman was the better man on pressure points saving all six break points he faced. Millman nearly doubled Mannarino’s winner total—19 to 10—and finished his spirited title run on a five-game surge to beat the Frenchman for the third time in as many meetings.

“First of all, massive thanks and congratulations to Adrian we have some tough battles some really hard-fought matches,” Millman said. “You’re so tough to play, you compete so hard thank you for sharing the court with me today.”

Millman is the fifth first-time champion on the ATP Tour this season.

Finals frustration continues for the third-seeded Frenchman, who fell to 1-9 in career finals. Mannarino stayed in step throughout the tight opening set, but showed signs of annoyance belting himself in the head with his Babolat racquet Mikhail Youzhny-style and bouncing his Babolat off the court as the second set slipped away.

“Congratulations for you; it’s been a great tournament,” Mannarino told Millman during the trophy presentation. “You’ve been playing really well today. Congratulations for your first title.”

The 32-year-old Frenchman was holding serve with more conviction for much of the first set. Millman worked through a deuce hold for 6-5 then applied scoreboard pressure.

Mannarino sailed a backhand to face set point. Millman, who had been rapping his two-handed backhand crosscourt on longer rallies, stepped in and banged a backhand winner down the line snatching the 65-minute opening set.

Swinging more freely, Millman ratcheted up the pressure during a 10-minute fourth game of the second set. Mannarino saved two break points, but missed a forehand to face a third break point. The left-hander curled a serve wide to send Millman into the doubles alley and had a good look at open court but sailed a backhand giving up the break and a 3-1 lead to the Aussie.

Mannarino netted a crosscourt backhand and bounced his Babolat racquet off the court as Millman earned the insurance break at 15 to go up 5-1.

Serving for his first ATP title you might expect Millman to tighten up. The understandably jittery Aussie had trouble landing his first serve as he faced break point at 30-40, but Mannarino let him off the hook netting a drop shot.

On championship point, Millman caught the baseline with a backhand but a linesman incorrectly called the ball out. Hawk-Eye line-calling technology showed the ball landed smack on the line.

As Millman walked to net to tap racquets, Mannarino briefly argued the out-call prompted him not to take a full swing. Chair umpire Fergus Murphy was not swayed announcing game, set and match for Millman after one hour 48 minutes.

"In Australia we say when something is an easy choice we call it a no brainer," Millman said. "For me it’s an absolutely no brainer that this tournament should be a permanent fixture on the schedule.

"You had six or eight weeks or so to make it possible and it really has been one of the best 250 indoors I’ve played. You should be a proud. A massive thank you. Here’s to making this tournament a permanent fixture."


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