Korda Outlasts Shelton In Shanghai Thriller

  • Posted: Oct 12, 2023

Korda Outlasts Shelton In Shanghai Thriller

American will play Hurkacz in maiden ATP Masters 1000 semi-final

Two of the bright lights of American tennis clashed for the first time on Thursday at the Rolex Shanghai Masters. Sebastian Korda and Ben Shelton’s quarter-final meeting did not disappoint.

Korda prevailed 6-7(10), 6-2, 7-6(6) against his #NextGenATP countryman Shelton in the first all-American ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final since 2017. Shelton was energetic on court as always and sent down 17 aces with his booming lefty serve, but it was the calm and collected 26th seed Korda who held firm to win despite letting slip five match points from 6/1 in the deciding-set tie-break.

“It’s super cool,” said Korda, when asked about reaching his maiden Masters 1000 semi-final. “I played a really high level. Ben did as well, so I think it was a really high level. We had a lot of great points out there and hopefully it’s the first of many battles that we play against each other.

“He’s such an electric tennis player and it was a lot of fun to share the court with him today.”

The thrilling climax was the second tie-break of a pulsating encounter under the closed roof of Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena. Shelton had clinched an opening set in which Korda started more confidently but could not make inroads against Shelton’s serve. The 21-year-old Shelton saved a set point at 8/9 in the tie-break before converting his fifth set point to deflate Korda after his positive start.

That disappointment did not deter the World No. 26, however. Korda raced to the second set, breaking three times, as Shelton began to show signs of fatigue. That pattern continued into the decider, when Korda surged 4-2 ahead, but Shelton maintained power and accuracy with his forehand to rally and set up the closing tie-break drama. He was unable to complete the comeback, however, as Korda advanced having converted five of 16 break points he earned.

“I’m just thankful to stay calm,” said Korda after staving off Shelton’s late charge. “I played some bad points but I always believed in myself, even at 6/6. I just thought about putting the return in the court, somehow getting my racquet on it and luckily I finished it off then.”

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With his two-hour, 55-minute triumph, Korda became the first semi-finalist from the United States in Shanghai tournament history and improved to 7-5 against Top 20 opponents this season. The 23-year-old, who upset World No. 3 Daniil Medvedev in the third round, will take on 16th seed Hubert Hurkacz in his maiden Masters 1000 semi-final after the Pole earlier defeated Fabian Marozsan 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.

“I’ve been playing some really good tennis the past couple of weeks,” said Korda, who is now 26-13 for the season. “I had a good result in Zhuhai, then went to Astana and made the final and now the semis here. I’m playing some good tennis now and hopefully I can keep it going and keep playing the way I’m playing.”

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