Muller Upsets Defending Champion Troicki In Sydney
Muller to meet Briton Daniel Evans in Saturday's title match.
Sixth seed Gilles Muller ended the 10-match Sydney winning streak of third seed and two-time defending champion Viktor Troicki, advancing into the final of the Apia International Sydney with a 6-3, 7-6(6) victory on Friday.
"I served very well today, especially in the crucial moments when I was down break points," said Muller. "I always managed to serve a first big serve. It helped me a lot. Especially in the second set when I was also starting to struggle a little bit with the heat. In those pressure moments, the serve was there. That's what got me through."
The 33-year-old Luxembourg native will play Daniel Evans in a first-time meeting on Saturday. Muller is looking for his first ATP World Tour title, having gone 0-5 in career finals. He finished runner-up last year in 's-Hertogenbosch (l. Mahut) and Newport (l. Karlovic).
A single break of serve in Troicki’s opening service game was all the sixth seed needed to take the opening set. Both players exchanged service holds in the second set to force a tie-break. Muller was unable to convert on his first match point at 6/5, but made good on his second chance at 7/6 to wrap up the win in one hour and 29 minutes.
“The problem was he was mixing up his serve very well,” said Troicki. “I couldn't find the best rhythm. I should have moved more on the return and make him think more about the serve. It was pretty hot out there. It was tough to play and tough to keep the focus all the time. He played well [and] he also likes to play here.”
Evans booked a spot in his first ATP World Tour final with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia in one hour and 50 minutes during the night session.
Evans settled immediately, opening up a 3-0 lead following a brief rain delay and played with great confidence. Although Kuznetsov, appearing in his first tour-level semi-final, worked his way back into contention, Evans seized control of the decider with a service break in the fourth game. It was the fourth three-set win of the week for the World No. 67.
"It was a good match," said Evans. "I played really well, actually, throughout the whole match… I thought he started pretty slow. I got up pretty early on him, so it was ideal for me. But then, obviously, he's in the semis for a reason. He came back at me, so it was a tough night.
"I know (Gilles) pretty well. Obviously, he has a great serve. He likes to come forward. It's going to be a different match. It won't be so fatiguing, actually. It will be sort of very stop/start. He'll be hitting a lot of aces, so we'll see."
DOUBLES: Top seeds and defending champions Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares moved one step closer to retaining their Sydney title, scoring a 6-3, 7-6(4) semi-final win over Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah. Murray and Soares are now on a 13-match win streak in Australia, which includes titles last year in Sydney and the Australian Open.
Awaiting them in the final are Wesley Koolhof and Matwe Middelkoop, who fought back to defeat Mate Pavic and Alexander Peya 6-3, 3-6, 10-8. Koolhof and Middelkoop are looking for their third ATP World Tour doubles title, having prevailed this past season in Sofia and Kitzbuhel. They have also excelled on the ATP Challenger Tour, racking up 11 titles in the past two years.