Never say never. After 14 years as a pro and 186 matches, John Millman made a career breakthrough as he claimed his first Tour title on Sunday.
The 31-year-old Australian defeated Adrian Mannarino 7-5, 6-1 in the final of the ATP 250 event in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan to finally claim title glory.
“Thank you for always supporting me, not just in the good times but the tough times,” Millman said during the on-court interview. “This is my first ATP250 that I’ve won and it’s really special that I could do so in Nur-Sultan.”
Millman, ranked 45 in the world, became the fifth first-time champion on the ATP Tour this season and is also the fifth player to win a title after facing match points in the previous rounds.
Match Point(s) Saved Champions in 2020*
🇷🇸 Novak Djokovic (Dubai)
🇨🇿 Jiri Vesely (Pune)
🇺🇸 Reilly Opelka (Delray Beach)
🇫🇷 Ugo Humbert (Antwerp)
🇦🇺 John Millman (Nur-Sultan)
*Players who have saved a match point across the tournament they eventually won. pic.twitter.com/2VjXAaX0kV
— ATP Tour (@atptour) November 1, 2020
The Australian saved two match points at 3-5 in the third set during his quarterfinal clash against America’s Tommy Paul. He then wiped off a 0-5 deficit in the tie-breaker to win 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (5).
This was the third career final for Millman and he played with his signature grit, saving all the six break points he faced and broke the Frenchman’s serve thrice.
“It is incredible. I am so happy and relieved,” he said.
“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 earned 250 FedEx ATP Rankings points and $13,410. Mannarino, who is now 1-9 in Tour finals, collected 150 points and $11,210.
“”I had to fight off those early break points and I really managed to win that first set against the momentum of the match,” said the Australian.
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.”