Millman Relives Astana Open Breakthrough: 'It Was Massive For Me'
The Australian, who practised with Italians Lorenzo Musetti and Andreas Seppi prior to Saturday’s draw, made history as the inaugural Astana Open champion in 2020. The 32-year-old defeated Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 7-5 6-1 in the final after posting victories over Fernando Verdasco, Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe on the way to the decider.
Millman, who reached the US Open quarter-finals in 2018, has claimed 12 ATP Challenger level titles. But he said breaking through on the main tour was a highlight of his career.
“It was massive for me. It is a really challenging thing to do and it is something that I had set as a goal for the past few years,” he said. “There have been plenty of good players who have not been able to break through and lift a title at the ATP level.
“I felt like I had put myself in a position a couple of times. I’d been in a couple of finals before, so to go through and achieve a goal was really special. It was, mentally, a really challenging year for everyone, so to be able to do it like that, I was proud of it, because it really tested your resilience. The triumph was the culmination of a lot of hard work and resilience.”
No. 43 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, Millman is seeded fifth for the 2021 Astana Open and will open the tournament against a qualifier. Aslan Karatsev, a semifinalist at the Australian Open in February, is the top seed for the ATP 250 tournament carrying prize money of $541,800.
Millman has been hindered by injuries prior to major events in a testing season in which he has compiled a record of 14 wins from 34 matches. The Brisbane native was forced to withdraw from the French Open due to a back injury and then suffered bone bruising in a foot at the Olympics in a further blow, with the injury troubling him in the lead-in to the US Open.
“That was really challenging. You want to be peaking at the Grand Slams,” he said.
But the right-hander reached quarter-finals in Munich in April and in Washington D.C. in August and has trained well in Nur-Sultan over the past week.
He believes his game is suited to the indoor hard courts of the Astana Open. “I won’t lie. It has been a really challenging year for me,” he said.
“When I have been fit, I feel like I’ve played some pretty good tennis. Maybe the results don’t show that, but when I was fit, I felt great.
“But it is a nice feeling being back here. You know your surroundings. They do an incredible job here. It is good to be back where I had some nice memories last year.”
- Story courtesy Astana Open