Denis Shapovalov eases into Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships semi-finals

Canadian defeats Chardy in straight-sets

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - MARCH 18: Denis Shapovalov of Canada stretches to play a forehand in his Quarter-Final singles match against Jeremy Chardy of France during Day Twelve of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on March 18, 2021 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
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Denis Shapovalov booked his place in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships semi-finals after a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Jeremy Chardy on Thursday.

Third seed Shapovalov struck 26 winners and looked fresh in a convincing win that took him a step closer to his third ATP final.

The Canadian extended his perfect record to 3-0 against Chardy with the match turning in favour of Shapovalov at 5-5 in the first set when he struck a backhand return winner at deuce. Chardy’s first serve deserted him and Shapovalov took advantage to break en-route to clinching the opening set in 46 minutes.

Shapovalov seemed to thrive in the hot and quick conditions, winning 44 of 50 service points, including 10 aces, and clinched a place in his first semi-final since the St Petersburg Open in October 2020.

After defeating Jan-Lennard Struff and Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets to reach the quarter-finals, Shapovalov said that finding more consistency in his game was key to reaching more tour finals. He has reached two so far, winning one – the 2019 Stockholm Open.

At the moment, he looks like the man to beat in Dubai. “It was a tough match as Jeremy was serving and playing well,” said Shapovalov after his win over Frenchman Chardy.

“I am really happy that I was able to convert the break points. It helps to play three straight-set matches and I feel fresh and ready to go. Also because I haven’t been playing too many tournaments."

The 21-year-old revealed one area of his game that he has been working hard on to improve. “I’ve focused on my serve a lot in the past couple of weeks," he said. "I have worked on placing it and tried out different types of serves to have more variation. I hope I can continue that.

"I’ve also worked on my footwork and positioning during rallies. I am feeling the ball well on both sides. If I am moving well, everything goes into place.”

Shapovalov has now reached 12 career semi-finals and will face either South African qualifer Lloyd Harris – who stunned top seed Dominic Thiem in the second round – or Japan's Kei Nishikori.

Italy teenager Jannik Sinner is heading for the exit in Dubai after losing to Aslan Karatsev 6-7, 6-3, 6-2.

Sinner, who claimed a high-quality 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victory over Roberto Bautista Agut in the previous round, found the Russian wildcard a tougher proposition.

Karatsev, who became the first male player to reach a Grand Slam semi-final on his debut at the Australian Open last month, hit 41 winners to earn a hard-fought win over No 16 seed Sinner.

“It was tough at the beginning as he is a really talented guy,” said Karatsev, who will next play countryman and second seed Andrey Rublev or Marton Fucsovics of Hungary. “In the tie-break I was a little unlucky. I felt more comfortable in the second set and knew how to play against him.”