Aslan Karatsev has reached his third ATP Tour final of a breakout 2021 season, by beating Russian compatriot Karen Khachanov, to advance to a showdown with two-time Kremlin Cup winner Marin Cilic.
Karatsev saved four set points against Khachanov in the tiebreaker as he turned around a 6-3 deficit on his way to a 7-6 (9-7) 6-1 victory.
“I tried to not think about the score in the tie-break and just play point by point,” Karatsev, who still lives in Moscow, said.
“At 5-6 I made a great return and he got nervous and that is how I managed to win it.
“It means the world to me (to reach the final).
“I have been to this tournament many times, so this final I will play tomorrow will be special for me.”
Karatsev started the season by reaching the Australian Open semi-finals on his grand slam debut and followed that up with the Dubai Open title in March and a runner-up performance at the Serbia Open in April.
Cilic, who won the tournament in 2014 and 2015, came through his semi-final match 6-3 6-4 against Lithuanian lucky loser Ricardas Berankis – after going a break down in the second set.
“It was a tough match, Ricardas played well,” former world No.3 Cilic said.
“The first set was great from my side. I served amazing but then Ricardas began to find his rhythm and played much better in the second set…
“Mentally it was difficult, but I managed to play my best tennis at the right time.”