Shapovalov, Karatsev Reach Semi-Finals In Dubai

Denis Shapovalov (photo: DDFT)

DUBAI, March 18, 2021 (DDFT Press Release)

Denis Shapovalov and Aslan Karatsev advanced into the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Thursday with well-earned victories. Third seed Shapovalov overcame Jeremy Chardy 7-5, 6-4 and tournament wild card Karatsev outlasted 16th seed Jannick Sinner 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2.

“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.

Games in the first set went comfortably with serve until 5-5, when Chardy struggled with his serve, struck two double faults and allowed Shapovalov to take advantage of his second serve to earn a decisive break and then serve out the set to love. The second set followed a similar path with both players holding serve comfortably until 4-4, when Shapovalov broke and closed out the match with his 10th ace.

“It was just a couple of points here and there,” said Shapovalov. “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.”

The left-handed Canadian won 26 of his 28 points on serve, and that was the result of a lot of recent hard work.

 “I’ve definitely focused on my serve a lot the last couple of weeks and trying for it to have more variation, and I’m definitely very happy with the way I’m serving and hopefully I can continue that,” said Shapovalov. “We also worked a lot on my footwork and I’m moving well, and when I’m moving well I feel like everything kind of goes into place.”

Sinner made the early running against Karatsev, breaking for 2-0 and building a 4-1 lead. And, although Karatsev broke back in the seventh game, it was Sinner who took the tiebreak. The second set saw the tables turned, as in an 11-minute second game Karatsev took a 2-0 lead on his fifth break point, and that was enough to level the match.

In the third set, after an early exchange of breaks Karatsev crucially fought off two break points to hold for 2-2 and from then on always held the upper hand against his discouraged opponent.

“I started to play better in the second set,” said Karatsev. “I started to feel more the game, to read how he’s playing and where is the weak place where I have to play. In the third set I felt he already dropped down a bit. I was feeling pretty much comfortable returning.”

“Since 1998 only one wildcard had reached the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, when Malek Jaziri defeated fellow wild card Stefanos Tsitsipas. That was in 2018, and now we applaud another similar and remarkable achievement by Aslan Karatsev,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “He has confirmed to us all that his incredible record-breaking run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open was not an isolated example of his immense talents, and we look forward to seeing what he has in store for us in the semi-finals here.”