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Korda holds off Shelton to battle into Shanghai semifinals

By AFP - Oct 12,2023 - Last updated at Oct 12,2023

Sebastian Korda (right) is congratulated by USA’s Ben Shelton after the former’s win at their men’s singles quater-final match at the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament in Shanghai on Thursday (AFP photo)

SHANGHAI — Sebastian Korda reached his first Masters semifinal as he battled back to tame fast-rising fellow American Ben Shelton 6-7 (10/12), 6-2, 7-6 (8/6) in Shanghai on Thursday.

The 26th seed finally sealed the quarter-final on his sixth match point and plays Poland’s 16th seed Hubert Hurkacz for a place in Sunday’s final.

With the centre-court roof closed because of rain in Shanghai, the first set went to a tie break after they exchanged breaks in the 11th and 12th games.

US Open semifinalist Shelton, who uncorked a serve clocked at 236 kilometres per hour earlier in the set, had Korda on the back foot throughout a gripping tie break.

The pressure finally told when the recently turned 21-year-old Shelton unleashed an ace on his fifth set point that Korda could only watch whizz by.

The 23-year-old Korda, whose father Petr reached two in the world at his peak, recovered to break Shelton’s big serve at the start of the second set and raced to level the quarter-final at one set all.

Korda broke the 19th seed at the start of the deciding set and then dug himself out of a hole, saving three break points to extend his lead to 3-1 and then 4-2.

But Korda, whose only previous ATP title came in 2021 in Parma, allowed Shelton back in again and they went to another tie break.

Korda let slip five match points from 6-1 in the tie break before belatedly sealing an absorbing encounter in just under three hours.

In the first quarter-final, Hurkacz similarly fought back to defeat unseeded Hungarian Fabian Marozsan 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.

The Shanghai Masters is back after four years following the pandemic and has witnessed a succession of shocks.

Top seed Carlos Alcaraz was turfed out in the last 16 to follow Daniil Medvedev — beaten by Korda — Holger Rune, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Jannik Sinner out the exit door.

There is only one player from the world’s top 10 left in the draw in the form of seventh-ranked Russian Andrey Rublev.

The fifth seed faces 32nd seed Ugo Humbert of France in the quarter-finals while 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov — who turfed out Alcaraz — plays 22nd seed Nicolas Jarry.

World Number 1. Novak Djokovic skipped the tournament.


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