ATP Hong Kong: Frances Tiafoe wins. Juncheng Shang shines

18-year-old Juncheng Shang will compete in his first ATP quarter-final

by Jovica Ilic
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ATP Hong Kong: Frances Tiafoe wins. Juncheng Shang shines
© Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Four players reached the Hong Kong quarter-final on Wednesday, with 18-year-old Juncheng Shang stealing the show. The young gun stayed on the court for six and a half hours in the opening two rounds, saving three match points and becoming the second player born in 2005 with an ATP quarter-final.

After prevailing over Laslo Djere, Juncheng met Botic van de Zandschulp in the second round and earned a thrilling 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 victory in over three and a half hours. The Chinese fended off a match point in the second set's closing stages and prevailed in the decider for a place in the last eight.

Shang claimed one point more than Van de Zandschulp, emerging at the top despite serving at 54%. Botic fired 13 aces and saved four out of seven break points. He broke his rival three times from eight opportunities, missing his chances and propelling a teenager through.

The Dutchman denied a break point in the encounter's second game, avoiding an early setback.

Juncheng Shang© Fred Lee / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Shang served well early on, finding the rhythm behind his strokes and following the pace of a better-ranked rival.

A left-handed Chinese held with a service winner in the ninth game, forcing his opponent to serve to stay in the set. Van de Zandschulp denied two set points and held for more drama. Juncheng played a loose service game after missing his chances, hitting a double fault in the 11th game and losing serve.

The more experienced player could not bring the set home from there, playing a loose smash in game 12 and getting broken at 15 to introduce a tie break. Shang led 4-2 before van de Zandschulp stepped in and claimed it 7-5 after his rival's loose forehand drive-volley, moving in front after 71 minutes.

They traded breaks in the second set's games three and four and served well in the following ones. Shang locked the result at 4-4 with a powerful serve and held after deuce after another in game ten for 5-5. The young gun served to stay in the match at 5-6 and offered van de Zandschulp a match point.

Juncheng Shang, Pavel Kotov and Frances Tiafoe are through in Hong Kong.

A left-hander denied it with a powerful serve and introduced a tie break after a winner at the net. Juncheng clinched six straight points and claimed the breaker 7-2, introducing a decider after two hours and 23 minutes.

They served well in the first half of the final set before the young gun experienced a stern test at 3-3. Shang denied three break points and held with a booming serve for more drama. The Chinese broke the Dutchman in the eighth game, serving for the victory at 5-3.

Botic made one last push and broke back with a forehand crosscourt winner, reducing the gap and extending the battle. They served well in the remaining three games, arranging the third tie break. Shang won all points on serve and moved 4-2 in front after van de Zandschulp's forehand error.

The Chinese secured another mini-break for 5-2 and sealed the deal on his first match point after the Dutchman's loose forehand. Frances Tiafoe played against Miomir Kecmanovic and scored a 6-3, 7-6 triumph in an hour and 32 minutes.

Frances dominated behind the first serve, fending off three break points and keeping the pressure on Miomir. The Serb lost serve once in the opener and hit the exit door despite staying in touch with the American in set number two and three set points on his tally.

Tiafoe produced five comfortable holds in the first set and broke in game four for 3-1. Frances held at love at 5-3, wrapping up the first set in style and hoping for more in the second. The American struggled a bit in the second set's closing stages, facing three set points in back-to-back service games and defending them to reach a tie break.

Frances grabbed three mini-breaks and claimed it 7-4 for a place in the quarter-final. Pavel Kotov defeated Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 41 minutes, remaining on the title course.

Enil Ruusuvuori© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The Russian won eight points more than the Italian, saving all four break points and earning three breaks that propelled him over the top.

Pavel served well in the opener, experiencing no issues and breaking Lorenzo at 15 in game five. The Russian closed the set on his serve in game ten, hoping for more in set number two. Musetti missed his opportunities to prolong the battle, losing serve in games five and nine and pushing his opponent over the top.

Emil Ruusuvuori defeated Karen Khachanov 7-6, 2-6, 6-2 in two hours and 25 minutes. The Finn won seven points more than the Russian, playing better behind the first and second serve and ousting a better-ranked rival with a strong performance in the decider.

Karen led 4-2 in the first set and squandered break chances at 5-5. Emil clinched the breaker 7-2 and moved in front. Khachanov saved break points early in the second set, delivering back-to-back breaks and a boost after taking the set 6-2.

Emil started all over in the decider, serving well and earning consecutive breaks to terminate the rival's resistance and move into the quarter-final.

Frances Tiafoe
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