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Sebastian Korda outlasts Ben Shelton to reach Shanghai semis

Sebastian Korda outdueled Ben Shelton on Thursday to advance to the semifinals of the Shanghai Masters in China.

It was the first-ever meeting between the two and the first time two Americans have met in the quarterfinals of an ATP Masters 1000 event since 2017, and neither likely will forget it. Korda, the 26th seed, frittered away five match points in the third-set tiebreak before winning 6-7 (10), 6-2, 7-6 (6) in two hours and 55 minutes.

“I played an incredible match,” Korda, 23, said. “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.”

Shelton, the 19th seed, needed five set points to win the first set in the tiebreak after firing nine aces, his first of 17 in the match.

Korda was not deflated by the tough opener. He broke Shelton, a U.S. Open semifinalist, three straight times to start the second set and breezed to the win to tie the match.

With a break in hand, Korda took a 4-2 lead in the third set before the 21-year-old Shelton broke back to get back on serve, leading to the tiebreak.

“I’m just thankful to stay calm,” Korda said of the third set and tiebreak. “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.”

With the win, Korda moved to 26-13 on the season, 7-5 against Top 20 opponents. He beat World No. 3 Daniil Medvedev in the third round on the way to his first-ever Masters semifinal.

His recent play has given Korda confidence as he heads into Saturday’s match against 16th seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, who defeated Fabian Marozsan 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.

“I’ve been playing some really good tennis the past couple of weeks,” Korda said. “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.”

Hurkacz was happy to escape with a win against the Hungarian.

“He came with some really great shots, and I just needed to stay positive and keep committing to the gameplan,” Hurkacz, 26, said. “To be aggressive, because if I dropped anything short he was just taking advantage of it and coming with some really incredible shots. I knew I had to stay on point today.”

–Field Level Media

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