John Millman’s run towards a first career ATP Tour final has come to an end at the hands of Spain’s Pablo Carreno-Busta.
Millman fell 6-4 7-6 (7-5) to the 25-year-old world No.49 in a high quality semi-final where the Australian was not without his chances.
Millman even served for the second set, when leading 5-3 he had two set points to send the match to a deciding set, but couldn’t convert.
He came painstakingly close to hitting the line with an attempt at a backhand winner, but from there Carreno-Busta broke back and steadied, before taking out the second set tiebreak as Millman made two consecutive forehand errors.
That Millman was even in the match by that stage was a testament to his tenacity.
Throughout the entire first set and the beginning of the second – when he went out to a 3-1 lead – Carreno-Busta was playing near flawless tennis.
The Spaniard was hitting forehand winners almost at will, hitting deep and pushing Millman all over the court as he attacked the net to finish off points with authority.
In fact Millman couldn’t even get a look at a break point in the opening set, Carreno-Busta winning 81 per cent of points on his first serve.
That form wouldn’t last and through the middle of the second set it was the world No.81 ranked Australian who was pulling off the impossible shots.
There was a Lleyton Hewitt-esque backhand lob that left the Spaniard stranded at the net and it was followed by several sizzling backhand winners.
Ultimately it would be only Millman’s shot selection that betrayed him when things got tight, those winners turned to errors as Carreno-Busta booked his place in an all-Spanish final.
There he will play countryman and tournament second seed Roberto Bautista-Agut, who earlier beat Serbia’s Viktor Troicki 7-5 6-7 (7-2) 6-2 on Friday.
The second-seeded Spaniard is seeking his third title of the year after wins on the hard courts of Auckland in January and Sofia in February.
Carreno-Busta is seeking his first career title and is playing his third final for 2016.