Canadian Denis Shapovalov knocks off Jeremy Chardy to advance to Dubai semifinals

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Canada's Denis Shapovalov is heading to the semifinals of the Dubai Championships after beating France's Jeremy Chardy 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday.

The third-seeded Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ont., hasn't lost a game on serve in three matches this week.

"I definitely focused on my serve a lot the last couple weeks in practice," Shapovalov said. "Just putting a lot of time into it, placing it, trying different serves out and trying to have more variation. I'm definitely very happy with the way I'm serving. Hopefully I can continue that."

Shapovalov won 93 per cent of points (26-of-28) when he got his first serve in against Chardy and 82 per cent (18-of-22) on second serve.

Shapovalov, ranked 12th in the world, never faced a break point. Chardy, the world No. 53, was 0-for-2 when facing break point.

The Canadian is now 3-0 lifetime against Chardy.

"I just think I played really well on the break points and big points and I was able to serve and play the games on my serve pretty freely, which helped put more pressure on his service games," Shapovalov said.

Shapovalov advances to his 12th career semifinals. He'll face South African qualifier Lloyd Harris, who beat Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in another quarterfinal at the ATP Tour 500 event.

Harris became the first qualifier to reach the semifinals of the tournament.

"He should definitely be ranked higher than he is right now," Shapovalov said of the world No. 81. "He's very tough, got a great serve and great forehand. He likes to play big and go for it."

The 81st-ranked South African saved two break points in the third set before breaking Nishikori for a 5-3 lead. Harris, who also knocked out top-seeded Dominic Thiem in the second round, finished with 14 aces.

In a rematch of the Rotterdam final played less than two weeks ago, Andrey Rublev beat Marton Fucsovics 7-5, 6-2 to set up an all-Russian semifinal against Aslan Karatsev. Rublev also beat Fucsovics in straight sets to win the Rotterdam title.

Karatsev upset a seeded player for the third round in a row by beating No. 16 Jannik Sinner 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-2. Karatsev soared up the rankings after reaching the Australian Open semifinals in his Grand Slam main-draw debut last month. Since the start of February his only losses have come against Novak Djokovic and Thiem.

— With files from The Associated Press.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 18, 2021.

The Canadian Press