World No. 26 Sebastian Korda beats 19th seed Ben Shelton after a nail-biting all-American duel to progress into a career-first Masters 1000 semifinal at the Rolex Shanghai Masters on Thursday.
On Stadium court, Sebastian Korda became the first American to reach the semifinals in the tournament history, following his 6-7(10), 6-2, 7-6(6) triumph after almost three hours over World No. 20 Ben Shelton at the Masters 1000 event on Thursday.
After a thrilling three-setter matchup, the 26th seed outlined: “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 we play against each other.”
Further speaking about his fellow compatriot, he said: “He’s such an electric tennis player, and it was a lot of fun to share the court with him today.”
The first encounter at tour level between the young guns unfolded into a chess game staged under the closed roof of Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena, in which the five-time ATP finalist made his moves clinically to survive two dramatic tiebreakers.
Korda, 23, made a solid start to a tight opener in which Shelton and his booming serve left no breathing room en route to a stellar tiebreaker.
The Atlanta-born found an edge to convert his first break of serve in the 11th game, only to drop his serve straight back, leading to a first set tiebreak, which he stole 7-6(10) after converting his fifth set point.
Korda regrouped to square off, taking the second set 6-2, forcing a decider.
Then, the Florida native broke his adversary to set off the final set, extending his lead by opening a 4-2 advantage.
However, a late charge by the 21-year-old would shift momentum, breaking his rival in the eighth game and finding his way through a third-set tiebreak.
Korda raced to open a 6-1 advantage, and with the victory on his hands, he saw an unrelenting Shelton who, under pressure, rallied across five match points, seeking to earn a massive comeback.
Eventually, Petr Korda’s son clinched the set 7-6 and the match on his first serve.
In that regard, the Astana Open runner-up commented: “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.”
On Friday, he will face 16th seed Hubert Hurkacz, who advanced to his sixth career Masters 1000 semifinal by prevailing over tournament sensation Fabian Marozsan 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 after one hour and 45 minutes.
After coming from a set down to outlast the 24-year-old Hungarian, the Pole addressed their maiden match: “He came with some really great shots, and I just needed to stay positive and keep committing to the game plan. To be aggressive, because if I dropped anything short, he was just taking advantage of it and coming up with some really incredible shots. I knew I had to stay on point today.”
Korda and Hurkack are tied 1-1 in their series, having met for the last time at the Australian Open round of 16, a contest the American took in a monumental five-setter.
The Asian swing has seen Korda boasting some of his best tennis this season after being sidelined from tour for almost three months due to a wrist injury.