Dubai, March 18 (AFP/APP):Denis 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 Jeremy Chardy in Dubai on Thursday, while Andrey Rublev set up an all-Russian clash with Aslan Karatsev.
The third-seeded Shapovalov has yet to drop a set this week in the Emirates, and has not been broken in all 28 service games he has played through three matches.
The 21-year-old Canadian 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 South African qualifier Lloyd Harris.
“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.
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.
Harris became the first qualifier to reach the men’s semi-finals in Dubai thanks to a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Japan’s Kei Nishikori. The South African world No.81 is into the third ATP semi-final of his career, and his first at this level.
“I have a few matches under my belt now on these courts, so it’s starting to feel a little bit like my home court I must say. I’m just really enjoying it here,” said the 24-year-old Harris, who has picked up six victories so far this week through qualifying and the main draw, including one over top-seeded Dominic Thiem.
– Familiar foes –
Second-seeded Rublev extended his winning streak at 500-level tournaments to 23 matches in a row after he overcame Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 7-5, 6-2.
The 23-year-old has dropped just five sets throughout that run that saw him clinch four ATP 500 crowns since last September.
Rublev and Fucsovics were drawn against one another for a third consecutive week. The Russian world No.8 came out on top in their Rotterdam final a fortnight ago, before Fucsovics withdrew ahead of their scheduled quarter-final in Doha last week.
“I hope I don’t play you anymore this year,” laughed Fucsovics as he walked off court.
Rublev is into the semi-finals in Dubai for the first time, on just his second main-draw appearance at the event.
“I played really well these last three matches. I’ve never shown that level here in Dubai before and I’m really happy I’m doing well and I’m winning,” said the No.2 seed.
Meanwhile, Karatsev backed up his surprise run to the Australian Open semi-finals last month by advancing to the last-four stage 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.
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