MARSEILLE, France (AP) — Third-seeded Lucas Pouille remains on course for his second ATP title of the season after beating qualifier Ilya Ivashka 6-3, 7-6 (6) to reach the Open 13 final on Saturday.
The 16th-ranked Pouille won the Open Sud de France two weeks ago and is gunning for his sixth career title.
He will face Karen Khachanov of Russia, who beat fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-2.
Pouille looked to be cruising when he led 3-1 in the second set, but the 193rd-ranked Belarusian broke back for 3-3. Pouille took control again in the 11th game, breaking Ivashka’s serve for the third time.
It gave him a chance to serve out the match. Instead, he fluffed three match points and Ivashka took his fifth break-point chance of the game to force a tiebreak.
Pouille led it 5-2. Ivashka won the next four points to give himself set point, which he then wasted with a loose forehand long. Pouille’s looping forehand into the corner made it 7-6, and he sealed victory at the fourth attempt when Ivashka returned his second serve into the net.
“I missed some match points and then it became a really tough battle,” Pouille said.
Khachanov, ranked 47th, will go for his second title in as many finals. He won the Chengdu Open in China two years ago.
Khachanov was ominous on serve, winning 90 percent of his first-serve points overall and a whopping 100 percent in the second set. He had eight aces and broke the Czech player’s serve four times. Even when defending his own serve, Khachanov was in robust form, saving all three break-point chances.
He also beat Berdych in the second round at last year’s French Open.
Pouille, who lost last year’s Open 13 final, has never played against Khachanov.