Korda defeats Shelton, reaches first ATP Masters 1000 semifinal in Shanghai
Sebastian Korda came back from a set down in the quarterfinals to defeat fellow American Ben Shelton, 6-7(10), 6-2, 7-6(6), earning a spot in his first ATP Masters 1000-level semifinal in Shanghai.
In the first match between the two rising stars, the pair were neck-and-neck until the end, with the three-set match lasting just shy of three hours. Korda and Shelton both held serve throughout the first set until they broke each other, leading to the first tiebreak of the match. Shelton had four set points—and Korda had one—before the 21-year-old finally capitalized on the fifth to take the first set.
The second set got off to a rough start for the world No. 20, with Korda breaking Shelton during his opponent’s first three service games. Shelton managed to break his slightly older compatriot and then held serve, but Korda kept his lead to force a third set. The final set ended in another tiebreak. Korda led 6-1, then lost five consecutive points, before serving out the match.
"Ben's a really good guy," Korda said afterwards. "He's got a great family. We've started to know each other really well these last couple months. We have a great relationship together. We played doubles one time, will definitely play again in the future.
"[At the end], I think we just talked about the tiebreaker and, you know, we were just kind of laughing. He's an incredible player, he's electric, he's fun to watch. He's fun to play against, honestly.
"I had a lot of fun during the match today. Just, honestly, just shows also the type of person that he is. He's incredibly nice, always has a smile on his face, and just a really great guy all around."
This is Korda’s third ATP semifinal in a row during the Asian swing after events Zhuhai and Astana, and he is now 7-5 against Top 20 opponents for the season, despite his wrist injury that has forced him out of competition for three months.
In order to play in his first ATP Masters 1000 final, Korda will have to defeat a fourth player ranked above him this week: No. 16 seed Hubert Hurkacz. But the American has been on a hot streak the past few weeks, and upset world No. 3 Daniil Medvedev in the third round of this tournament, so a semifinal win isn’t out of the question.
He played well and had “a lot of fun” in his match against the ever-energetic Shelton, but is already looking toward the next challenge. Korda previouly beat Hurkacz in five sets in the fourth round of the Australian Open in January.
"I'm going to have to return really well again. He's one of the best servers on tour, he's got a super tricky serve,” Korda said. “He's a great athlete, goes to the net really well. It's going to be interesting for sure. Hopefully I return well, serve well, and we'll see what happens.”