Duckworth beats Millman for Astana Open semifinal spot

Duckworth beat fifth-seeded Millman 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semifinals of a tour event for the second time in his career and first since the Maharashtra Open in February 2020.

Duckworth beat fifth-seeded Millman (in pic) 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semifinals of a tour event for the second time in his career and first since the Maharashtra Open in February 2020.   -  AP

Defending champion John Millman was upset by fellow Australian James Duckworth in the quarterfinals of the Astana Open on Friday, as Alexander Bublik also reached the semifinals.

Duckworth beat fifth-seeded Millman 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semifinals of a tour event for the second time in his career and first since the Maharashtra Open in February 2020.

In a match between friends who train at the same site, Duckworth broke Millman in the opening game of each set. Millman saved a match point at 5-3 down in the second but Duckworth closed it out in the next game.

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“It is always difficult playing someone so close to you, but you have to put that aside and focus pretty hard and I was able to play a pretty good match,” Duckworth said.

Duckworth's semifinal opponent is eighth-seeded Ilya Ivashka, who came back from a set down to beat Emil Ruusuvuori 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, helped by five double faults from Ruusuvuori in the deciding set.

“The whole match was a mental fight and I am really happy I have come through it,” Ivashka said.

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Bublik is the highest-ranked player in the last four at 34th in the world and will play Kwon Soon-woo in the semifinals after beating Carlos Taberner 6-3, 6-4 in their quarterfinal.

South Korea's Kwon beat seventh-seeded Laslo Djere 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-0 for back-to-back upset wins after he eliminated third-seeded Dusan Lajovic on Thursday.

Of the semifinalists, only Ivashka has won a tour title, at the Winston-Salem Open in North Carolina last month. Bublik is 0-4 in career singles finals but the biggest match of his career was in doubles when he and Andrey Golubev were runners-up at the French Open in June. Duckworth and Kwon have never gone beyond the semifinals on tour.

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