16 Jan 2020

Fantastic Friday of semi-finals action

by Rhonda Karl
Fantastic Friday of semi-finals action

The final four for Men’s Week of the ASB Classic have been decided, and includes a two-time former ASB Champion, a Next Gen star, a fiery Frenchman and a big serving Pole.  

Second seed John Isner will face talented leftie Ugo Humbert in the first singles semi-final of the day, while fiery fifth seed Benoit Paire of France meets Polish 22-year-old Hubert Hurkacz for a place in Saturday’s final.  

American veteran John Isner served his way past Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund 7-6 (5) 7-6 (5) on centre court to make it to the semi-finals. The two-time former ASB Classic champion makes life frustrating for his opponents with his ability to snuff out break point chances with big aces. This proved to be the case once more as Isner saved all 9 break points against him and fired down 25 aces.

“I know I very easily could’ve lost that match six and six - that’s how it goes with matches that I play” said Isner

Next Gen French star Ugo Humbert scored a superb straight set upset over the second seed Denis Shapovalov 7-5 6-4 to book his place in the semi-finals. In a battle between the two talented young lefties, Humbert’s powerful forehand kept Shapovalov pinned behind the baseline.

Humbert was delighted with his performance against the world No. 14.

“One of the keys was to stay focused on my game, on my plan and it was working today” said Humbert.

Famboyant Frenchman Paire brought his exciting all-court game to centre court under lights in a 3-6 6-1 6-4 win over Aussie veteran John Millman.

Millman took advantage of an errant Paire to grab a 3-0 in the first set, his consistency from the baseline proving too much for Paire as he wrapped up the set 6-3 with an ace. In the second set Paire found his all-court game, forcing his way up the court and dominating the second set 6-1.

In the final set Paire continued to dazzle with his brilliant backhand and sublime drop-volleys. He scored an early break and never looked back to complete the comeback win.

“It was a good match today – I was a little bit nervous at the beginning because I knew John was a tough opponent” Paire said

“I’m very happy about the win and (about) myself in the second and third set.”  

In the final match of the night, big serving Pole Hubert Hurkacz overcame the Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez in a tight three set battle 6-4 6-7 6-4.

Hurkacz will need to bring the same power and composure up against Paire tomorrow. The two played off for the title in Winston Salem last year with the young Pole winning his first career title in the three-set victory.

Tomorrow’s semi-final action will start at 2pm on centre court with doubles action.

First up will be the Belgium pairing of Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen against New Zealand born Japanese player Ben McLachlan and his partner Luke Bambridge from Great Britain.

Kiwi Marcus Daniell will fly the flag for New Zealand in the second doubles semi-final as he and partner Austrian Phillip Oswald take on fourth seeds American Austin Krajicek and Croatian Franko Skugor.

Tennis fans are encouraged to arrive early with centre court action starting as gates open on what is sure to be a fantastic Friday of semi-finals action.