Shapovalov, Karatsev enter Dubai Tennis C’ships semis - GulfToday

Shapovalov, Karatsev enter Dubai Tennis C’ships semis


Denis Shapovalov plays a shot against Jeremy Chardy during their Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships match on Thursday. Courtesy: DDF Tennis Championships website

Denis Shapovalov and Aslan Karatsev booked their berths in the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Thursday with well-earned victories over Jeremy Chardy and Jannik Sinner respectively.

Third seed Shapovalov put together another serving clinic to storm into the 12th semi-final of his career with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over French veteran Chardy, while Karatsev ousted No.16 seed Sinner.

The Canadian has yet to drop a set this week in Dubai, and has not been broken in all 28 service games he has played through three matches.

The 21-year-old fired 26 winners and lost a mere six points on serve throughout the contest against Chardy.

In what will be his third semi-final appearance since the tour restarted from its hiatus last August, Shapovalov will take on Lloyd Harris, who defeated Kei Nishikori.

“I definitely focused on my serve a lot the last couple of weeks in practice, just putting a lot of time into it, placing it, trying different serves out and trying to have more variation,” said the world No.12.

“It was just a couple of points here and there,” he said. “I feel I had a couple more looks on his serve, not too many, but I was able to capitalise on the chances that I had and that was really big. I was able to play the games on my serve pretty freely which helped put more pressure on him,” Shapovalov concluded.

Shapovalov and Chardy went neck and neck for the first 10 games before the explosive lefty finally got his hands on a break point, courtesy of a brilliant backhand return winner. The Canadian comfortably served out the opening set, at love, on the 46-minute mark.

A crucial break in game nine gave Shapovalov the edge in the second set, and he wrapped up the win with his 10th ace of the match.

“We have enjoyed two thrilling quarter-finals this afternoon with tennis of the highest quality,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “We congratulate Denis Shapovalov and Aslan Karatsev on their wins and eagerly look forward to seeing if they can go on to reach the final.”

Chardy was bidding to reach his third semi-final of the season, following runs in Antalya and at an Australian warm-up event in Melbourne, and he was also a quarter-finalist this month in Rotterdam. In contrast, Shapovalov has struggled, losing both of his matches at the ATP Cup, getting no further than the third round at the Australian Open and then winning just one match last week in Doha.

This week, though, has not reflected their previous experiences this season. The pair had taken contrasting paths to the quarter-finals, with Shapovalov winning his previous two matches this week in straight sets while Chardy had struggled in all three of his matches, each time edging through 6-4 in the third set.

Meanwhile, Karatsev backed up his surprise run to the Australian Open semi-finals last month by advancing to the last-four stage in Dubai with a hard-fought 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-2 win over Italian teenager Sinner.

The 27-year-old Karatsev, who started the year ranked 114 in the world before his breakthrough showing in Melbourne, came back from a set down for a second consecutive match in Dubai.

The Russian wildcard unleashed 41 winners against 25 unforced errors during the two-hour 49-minute quarter-final.

“From the beginning it was tough to get used to the rhythm, he’s playing so fast, he’s a really talented guy, he’s a top player. It took me time to get used to the rhythm and then in the tiebreak I was a bit unlucky. The second set I started to feel better, more comfortable,” said the 42nd-ranked Karatsev.

Harris advances: South African Lloyd Harris continued his dream week by becoming the first qualifier to reach the semi-finals.

World No. 81 Harris advanced to his first ATP 500 semi-final with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 victory over former World No. 4 Nishikori in one hour and 37 minutes.

Having saved two break points in the deciding set, the match turned in the eighth game when Nishikori overhit a forehand to hand Harris a chance to serve for a place in the semi-finals.

“I have a few matches under my best now,” said Harris. “It’s starting to feel like my home court. I am really enjoying it out here and played really well on the break points [in the third set].”

Nishikori admitted, “He took the chance at the end and served well for sure. I have a couple of chances, but he hit his forehand and backhand well.”

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