John Millman is celebrating a major career breakthrough after a dozen years of battling in professional tennis, winning his first-ever ATP Tour title.
At the age of 31, the Brisbane stalwart overcame Adrian Mannarino 7-5 6-1 in the final of the Astana Open to capture his maiden title in his third final.
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It was a typically dogged Millman performance, accompanied by his ability to find his very best form at key moments as he saved all six break points he faced.
“It is incredible. I am so happy and relieved,” Millman told the official ATP website.
“I just feel very satisfied. It is just a pure moment of satisfaction.
“That was my third final - third time lucky I guess.
“These things aren't easy to win and to do so at a place where I felt so comfortable all week, in terms of the hospitality, makes it really special.
“To win the inaugural Astana Open is special. I am so happy. It has been a big team effort and I am pumped.”
Millman has enjoyed a few memorable highlights in his career, not least when he beat the great Roger Federer in five sets at the US Open two years ago.
He also took Federer to five sets in a thriller at this year’s Australian Open.
Yet the idea of winning that elusive first Tour-level title has, of course, always been a career ambition, especially considering how he has won no less than 19 titles over 12 years at the less-exalted Challenger and Futures level.
John Millman fight and fights to win ATP title
Having lost his previous two previous championship matches, in Tokyo last year and Budapest the year before, Millman went into the match encouraged by the fact he’d beaten Mannarino in their previous two meetings.
He was also in battle-hardened mood, having had to really fight just to reach the final.
He had come from a set down and then 3-0 down in the third set before beating Frances Tiafoe in the semis while he saved two match points and fought back from 5-0 down in a deciding tiebreak to defeat Tommy Paul in their last-eight match.
Again, Millman found himself under pressure late in the first set, but he attacked Mannarino's backhand and served well, using his forehand to earn his first break point at 6-5 and ripping a backhand winner down the line to take his opportunity.
From 1-1 in the second set, Millman took control, claiming five straight games to charge to the title.
“I thought Adrian was playing great in that first set... Whenever you play Adrian Mannarino, it is always going to be a physical match,” said Millman.
“He makes you work for every point and he is so stingy with his errors. You have to be so low and moving really well because his ball is not really getting up. He is a really good indoor hardcourt player.
“I had to fight off those early break points and I really managed to win that first set against the momentum of the match.
“After that, I saw the finish line was in sight. That was really pivotal, to fight off those break points and take that one opportunity at the end of the first set. With that, I managed to carry the momentum throughout the match.”
Millman, the fifth first-time winner on the ATP tour in 2020, will move up seven spots to world No.38 when the rankings are updated on Monday, elevating him to the No.2 spot in Australia ahead of Nick Kyrgios (world No.45) while still behind Alex De Minaur (25).
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