Pouille Reaches First 500-Level Final In Vienna
Lucas Pouille is doing his best to enter the 2018 season with a surge of momentum at his back. A first ATP World Tour 500 final appearance will go a long way.
Pouille rallied past Kyle Edmund 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-3 in Saturday's first semi-final at the Erste Bank Open 500 in Vienna. The World No. 25 reached his sixth ATP World Tour final and fourth of the year. He will look to add a hard-court crown to victories on the clay of Budapest and grass of Stuttgart, when he faces either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday.
It marks the second straight year a Frenchman will appear in the Vienna final, following Tsonga's runner-up finish to Andy Murray in 2016. Having dropped just one set en route to the championship, Pouille is in strong form in his quest to go one step further.
More aggressive from the baseline and striking his forehand with authority, Edmund had Pouille on defence often in the first set. He would earn the lone break points of the opener - six in total. While Pouille did well to turn them all aside and surge to a 4/0 lead in the ensuing tie-break, Edmund exhibited nerves of steel to claw back, striking a backhand winner down the line for 4-all. After denying a pair of set points, the 22 year old launched a forehand winner - his 11th of the set - to take the dramatic tie-break 9/7.
As clutch as Edmund was in the first set, a sloppy service game to open the second was all Pouille needed to seize the initiative. The Frenchman grabbed the quick break as momentum abruptly swung to his side of the court. Suddenly, he was the aggressor, forcing a decider and striking a forehand winner for the decisive break in the third set. Pouille advanced to the final after a gripping two hours and 17 minutes.
Pouille fired 36 winners, to Edmund's 26, and launched 13 aces in what was their third FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. All three encounters have come this year, with the Frenchman also taking a Davis Cup quarter-final clash in straight sets.
With Tsonga contesting the second semi-final, it marked the first time in tournament history (since 1974) that a pair of Frenchman are featuring in the last four in the Austrian capital.