© Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

Third seed Denis Shapovalov hits 26 winners past Jeremy Chardy on Thursday in Dubai.

Shapovalov Hitting Top Form, Reaches Dubai Semi-finals

World No. 12 to challenge Harris on Friday

Denis Shapovalov booked a place in his first ATP Tour semi-final for five months on Thursday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. The third-seeded Canadian struck 26 winners and looked fresh in a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Jeremy Chardy of France at the Aviation Club.

“It was a tough match as Jeremy was serving and playing well,” said Shapovalov. “I am really happy that I was able to convert the break points. It helps to play three straight sets matches and I feel fresh and ready to go.”

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Having finished 2020 with three opening-round losses and gotten off to a slow start this year, Shapovalov is attempting to get back to his best form this week in Dubai, where he seeks his second ATP Tour title and his first at ATP 500 level. The World No. 12 is also fighting to maintain his status as the No. 1 Canadian, leading Felix Auger-Aliassime by less than 400 points in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Milos Raonic also features in the Top 20.

“I’ve focused on my serve a lot in the past couple of weeks,” said Shapovalov, who is coached by former World No. 8 Mikhail Youzhny. “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 will now play South African qualifier Lloyd Harris, who beat Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals. Shapovalov practised with Harris two weeks ago in Dubai.

Shapovalov extended his perfect record to 3-0 against Chardy with the match turning in favour of the 21-year-old 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 46-minute opener.

Shapovalov thrived in the hot and quick conditions, returning deep to the feet of Chardy at 4-4 in the second set. Chardy sprayed Shapovalov’s forehand approach long. Shapovalov won 44 of 50 service points, including 10 aces, for a place in his first semi-final since October 2020 at the St. Petersburg Open (l. to Rublev). 

Chardy, 34, had been bidding to reach his third ATP Tour hard-court semi-final of the year after deep runs at the Antalya Open and Great Ocean Road Open in Melbourne.

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