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Australian James Duckworth, enjoying the best run of form in his battling career, has powered into his first ATP Tour final at the Astana Open in Kazakhstan.
The 29-year-old Sydneysider defeated Belarusian Ilya Ivashka 6-4 7-6 (7-4) in the semi-final of the hardcourt tournament in Nur-Sultan on Saturday to continue his purple patch.
The unseeded Duckworth, who will make it into the world's top-60 for the first time next week, has enjoyed his huge breakthrough just a week after winning the 12th second-tier Challenger title of his career in Istanbul.
His two-hour win over Ivashka was the world No.65 Duckworth's ninth straight victory in 11 days.
Duckworth, whose brilliant serving has been at the heart of his recent run, didn't have his best day in that department but sent down five more aces and broke Ivashka's big delivery once in each set.
He had to fight hard to save two set points in the second stanza before going on to win the tiebreak.
It set up a final for Duckworth with 23-year-old South Korean Kwon Soon-woo, the world No.82, who came from a set down to defeat Kazakh Alexander Bublik 3-6 7-5 6-3 in the other semi.
Both finalists, who've never played before, will be seeking a maiden title.
"It will be a tough match," Duckworth said.
"Kwon is more of a baseliner. I will have to be ready. I am just going to recover the best I can and come out tomorrow and see what happens."
Duckworth was left "thrilled" to reach the final.
"It was a really tough match. Ilya has been playing some great tennis this year. We have played twice already this year, both times went to three sets.
"The second set was very close and could have gone either way. I think I played the big points well."
If Duckworth prevails on Sunday, he will overtake John Millman - his victim in the quarter-final - to become Australia's No.2 men's player, behind Alex de Minaur.
It would be the reward for the remarkable resilience of an athlete who's had to undergo surgery eight times in an injury-riddled 13-year career but never gave up fighting.
"I've always been that way. If I've wanted to achieve something I know I've had to work really hard. That's the only way you get anywhere in life," Duckworth told the Astana tournament website.
"Consistently putting in the hours builds that resilience, but also an appreciation for when you then have the good times."