Ilya Ivashka’s strong form continued on Friday at the Astana Open as he battled back to overcome Emil Ruusuvuori 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 to reach his third tour-level semi-final of the season.

The 27-year-old captured his first tour-level title in Winston-Salem last month and has now won 11 of his past 12 matches. After a tight first two sets against Ruusuvuori, Ivashka raised his level in the crucial moments in the decider, saving all four break points he faced, before advancing after two hours and 52 minutes.

“It was a really really hard match,” Ivashka said. “It was brutal, almost three hours. The whole match was a mental fight and I am really happy I have come through it. In the third set, the score was 6-1, but it was really hard.”


Ivashka, currently at a career-high No. 52 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, now leads Ruusuvuori 3-0 in their ATPHead2Head Series, having also defeated the 22-year-old en route to the last four in Munich in April and in his run to the title in Winston-Salem.

“The beginning of the third set was super long with many tough games,” Ivashka added. “Until I got the double break at 3-1, I felt like it could go either way. The guys who came today were supporting hard. It is always nice when we have more people cheering for the players.”

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The Belarusian will next face James Duckworth after the Australian backed up his victory over fourth seed Filip Krajinovic by overcoming fifth-seeded countryman John Millman 6-4, 6-4 in Nur-Sultan.

“It was really tricky,” Duckworth said. “John is a good player and we are really good mates. We practise at the same site. 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, who was competing in his first tour-level quarter-final of the season, hit nine aces and won 78 per cent (29/37) of his first-serve points to defeat the defending champion in one hour and 31 minutes.

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