Duckworth and Kwon break new ground for final feeling

25.09.2021    Views: 245
Source: KTF press-service
Alex Sharp 
There will be a first-time ATP titlist crowned at the Astana Open this weekend. 
Home favourite Alexander Bublik praised his opponent at the handshake; «You played crazy good man, have you ever served like this?» After Soonwoo Kwon toppled the No.2 seed 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 to book a first career ATP Final. 
Earlier on Saturday, world No.65 James Duckworth dispatched in-form Ilya Ivashka 6-3, 7-6(4) to post a ninth consecutive victory and also land a maiden ATP silverware showdown. 
World No.82 Kwon conjured up a serving masterclass to achieve «one of my best wins, the best this year.» He landed 71 per cent of first serves and won 20 of 30 points behind his second delivery. The 23-year-old also strung together 14 consecutive first serves in the deciding set to ramp up the pressure on Bublik.  
It was time to toast a special day for the whole team. 
«I’m so happy to get to my first final. Today is my coach’s birthday, so it was the perfect present to give him,» revealed the South Korean, who withstood 26 aces from the home charge.  
«I had to think of one point at a time, I had to concentrate on my side. Bublik has such a great serve too. At the beginning I was guessing, but as the match went on, I was able to see it and build on return.» 

Kwon has practised numerous times against his final opponent Duckworth and the South Korean believes he’ll need to replicate his usual calm persona with so much at stake. 
«Playing against the big players, you need to be cool and to not rush. That helps with nerves,» he added. «I’ve been working really hard on the fitness side too which has helped a lot this week.» 
Bublik gained the upper hand in the opening set with two fortuitous net cords in the same game for a crucial 5-3 break lead. However, Kwon was rallying from corner to corner and connected with a remarkable defensive lob to ignite an early break in the second set.  
From there the South Korean was building in momentum and despite a magical backhand pass from outwide by the line judges from Bublik, it was Kwon who teased the errors from the Kazakh’s racket.  
A lob return looped onto the baseline as Kwon took charge in the decider, whilst a perplexed Bublik struggled to contain the artillery of his opponent.  
«He played out of his mind,» said the Kazakh talisman. «All the credit to him. In the most important moments he served unbelievable. I had 0-30 so many times and I didn’t have chances to win more points. If he plays like this he’ll be a great, great player.» 
Bublik relished the support from the vocal locals this week and is eager to spend more time on home soil. 
«I think I can take from this event that I should stay at home more. After the US Open I didn’t’ want to practice, I wasn’t hitting at all,» admitted the world No.34. 
«I’ve played so many tournaments, thinking I needed to play more and more to stay in shape. But we decided to be home, chill a little bit. This tournament shows me that I can be more relaxed in what I’m doing, be home more and still produce some great tennis.  
«It’s a pity I couldn’t reach the final on home soil, but he deserved it. I’ll try to get back my rhythm, play in Sofia and get ready for the rest of the season.» 
Before departing Bublik gave his view on Sunday’s final.  
«The balls I’ve seen James playing this week, if you're not Top 10 I’m sorry,» quipped the Kazakh. «I don’t know, both are playing out of their mind, so whoever has more luck.» 
That 'Top-10' level from Duckworth enabled the resolute Australian to dispatch the recent Winston-Salem champion Ivashka in straight sets. 
The 29-year-old is in the form of his life, arriving in Nur-Sultan off the back of his 12th Challenger title in Istanbul.  
Benefiting from brave, front foot tennis, Duckworth saved two set points late in the second to edge past the eighth seed into his first ATP final.  
«I'm super excited. It’s a moment I’ve thought about before,» stated the world No.65. 
«I’m thrilled. if you’d told me after my first match here I’d be in the final I wouldn’t have believed you. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.  
«I’m going to go out there and do my best, see how it goes.» 
It’s well documented the injury struggles the Australian has had to endure during a decade on tour, including eight surgeries. He’s now reaping the reward for his perseverance.  
«Absolutely. Going through all those difficult times. All that time on the operating table, doing rehab, doing physio, it definitely makes it all worth it, a little bit extra special.»

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