Ben Shelton downs Tommy Paul to reach semifinals in Tokyo


TOKYO — Ben Shelton reached his second career tour semifinal by beating 12th-ranked Tommy Paul 7-6 (4), 6-3 at the Japan Open on Friday.

It’s the 21-year-old Shelton’s second consecutive win against his American compatriot, following a victory during his breakthrough run to the US Open semifinals in September. It’s also his fourth win out of five against top-15 players, with victories against Jannik Sinner and Frances Tiafoe in that streak.

“It was definitely a difficult challenge, as it is whenever you play against a guy as talented and as tough as Tommy Paul,” the 19th-ranked Shelton said. “To be able to get through that with a win, it took a lot of mental toughness. I had to stay calm in the first set, serving for the set and then getting broken and having to finish it in the tiebreaker. It was a difficult task, but I’m happy to be moving on.”

Shelton will play American qualifier Marcos Giron in Saturday’s semifinals after the world No. 79 continued his impressive week with a 6-1, 6-4 win over 17th-ranked Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Giron made a fast start in both sets to carry him to an 81-minute win against Auger-Aliassime, who had reached his first tour-level quarterfinal since May.

Fourth-seeded Alex de Minaur was eliminated by Aslan Karatsev 6-3, 6-2.

The 50th-ranked Karatsev will play the winner of the match between Japanese wild-card Shintaro Mochizuki and Alexei Popyrin.

Jiangxi Open

Third-seeded Marie Bouzkova advanced to the semifinals of the Jiangxi Open in China with an emphatic 6-0, 6-4 win over Camila Osorio.

Diana Shnaider ended local favorite Nao Hibino‘s run with a 6-0, 7-5 victory to clinch a semifinal berth against the 29th-ranked Bouzkova.

Hong Kong Open winner Leylah Fernandez also moved into the semifinals by eliminating Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 6-4. The Canadian will play Katerina Siniakova, who progressed after Laura Siegemund withdrew before their quarterfinal match.

Due to wet weather in Nanchang on Thursday, the remaining second-round matches were played earlier Friday with Siniakova beating seventh-seeded Varvara Gracheva 6-4, 6-3 and Siegemund defeating Ulrikke Eikeri 6-1, 6-3.

Also, Fernandez beat Chinese qualifier You Xiaodi 6-4, 6-1 and Sasnovich eliminated Valeria Savinykh 6-3, 6-2.


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