Kyle Edmund reached his second tour-level championship match of the season on Saturday, beating former champion Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-4 at the European Open.
While Gasquet beat the Brit in the last four two years ago, this time it was Edmund who came out on top, firing 16 aces in a clinical 77-minute serving performance. The British No. 1, who will attempt to capture his first tour-level crown on Sunday, entered the match with a tournament-leading 85 per cent success rate behind his first serve and improved that figure by dropping just three of 35 points behind his first delivery to earn his 34th match win of 2018.
"I served well today. When I needed my serve it got me out of trouble and also got me some free points," said Edmund.
World No. 15 Edmund, who is yet to drop serve this week in Antwerp, improves to 3-1 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Gasquet and will look to become the first man outside of France to capture the European Open trophy on Sunday. The Grand Prix Hassan II runner-up will once again meet French opposition in the final, following Gael Monfils' 6-3, 6-4 victory over Diego Schwartzman.
"Of course, I would like [my final experience] to be different this time," said Edmund. "But I can't think about the end result. I have to think about the process of winning a tennis match against a very good player."
Looking to follow in the footsteps of French champions Richard Gasquet (2016) and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (2017), Monfils landed 10 aces and converted three of five break points en route to his second final of the season. The Frenchman, who captured his seventh tour-level trophy at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in January, is also bidding to lift multiple tour-level titles in a single season for the first time. Monfils owns a 1-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Edmund after defeating the Brit in straight sets in their only previous meeting at 2017 Wimbledon.
"I am relieved to have been able to win this match in two sets," said Monfils. "Luckily I could count on my strong first service."
This year's Rio Open presented by Claro winner was aiming to extend his record of reaching each championship match at the Antwerp-based event. In his only previous semi-final appearance in 2018, the World No. 17 triumphed in straight sets before beating Fernando Verdasco to win the biggest title of his career in Rio de Janeiro.