ATP Hong Kong: Juncheng Shang tops Frances Tiafoe. Andrey Rublev advances

Emil Ruusuvuori and Sebastian Ofner complete the semi-final line-up

by Jovica Ilic
ATP Hong Kong: Juncheng Shang tops Frances Tiafoe. Andrey Rublev advances
© Rob Carr / Staff - Getty Images Sport

An 18-year-old Juncheng Shang is the first player born in 2005 with an ATP semi-final. The young Chinese ousted Frances Tiafoe 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 29 minutes in the quarter-final, extending his great run and moving into the last four.

Tiafoe fired 12 aces, barely losing a point behind the first serve. However, his second serve let him down, facing eight break points and suffering one break in each set to propel a teenager through. Shang closed the encounter's second game with an ace and earned three break points in the next one.

The American denied them with winners and held, avoiding an early setback. The young gun held at 15 in the fourth game and pushed strong on the return again in the next one. A left-hander forced the rival's mistake on the third break chance, moving in front and gaining a boost.

Juncheng grabbed the sixth game after deuce, cementing the advantage and holding at love two games later for 5-3. Shang cracked a backhand crosscourt winner in the tenth game, securing the opener and gaining a boost.

Andrey Rublev© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

They served well at the beginning of the second set before Juncheng raised his level on the return at 2-2.

The youngster forced Tiafoe's mistake, opening a 3-2 gap and moving closer to the finish line. Frances painted a forehand crosscourt winner in the sixth game, earning his only break chance. The American missed a backhand, and the Chinese forced the rival's error on a game point for 4-2.

Shang held at love in the eighth game for 5-3 and moved over the top with a forehand crosscourt winner at 5-4, earning another notable victory and remaining on the title course. The top seed Andrey Rublev battled against Arthur Fils and made a 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 win in an hour and 52 minutes.

Rublev had a massive advantage in the shortest range up to four strokes, and Fils had a slight edge in the more advanced ones. Andrey made the difference behind the second serve, getting broken two times in the second set and keeping the pressure on his opponent in sets one and three.

Juncheng Shang is through to his first ATP semi-final in Hong Kong.

Fils denied seven out of ten break chances, but Rublev broke his resistance with a fine performance in the decider. Andrey dropped one point behind the initial shot in the first set, challenging his young rival to follow those numbers.

Arthur netted a forehand in the encounter's third game, falling 2-1 behind and experiencing an early blow. The Russian cemented the lead with a service winner in game four, serving well and creating three set points on the return at 5-3.

Arthur denied them with powerful serves and held to prolong the action. Rublev served for the set in game ten and closed it with a forehand down the line winner, securing the first part of the clash 6-4 after 35 minutes. Fils shifted into a higher gear in the second set, facing no issues in his games and keeping the pressure on Rublev.

The top seed got broken in the second game after a forced error and fell 4-0 behind when the Frenchman drew another mistake from a top-10 rival. The young gun held at 30 at 5-1, introducing a decider after 70 minutes. Rublev made a fresh start in the final set, pressuring Fils on the return in game two and seizing the fourth break chance after the Frenchman's double fault.

Andrey erased two break points in the fifth game, holding and forging a 4-1 advantage. Rublev faced another break point in game seven, saving it with an ace and maintaining the lead. The Russian broke again in the eighth game after the Frenchman's backhand error, sealing the deal and moving into the semi-final.

Sebastian Ofner scored the quickest victory of the day, ousting Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 24 minutes. The Austrian built the advantage in the shortest range up to four strokes, and they stayed neck and neck in the mid-range and most extended ones.

Ofner served at 75% and fired 21 aces, never facing a break point.

Sebastian Ofner© Sarah Stier / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Bautista Agut could not follow that pace on his second serve, facing six break points and losing serve once in each set.

Sebastian made a reliable start, cracking a backhand crosscourt winner in the encounter's first game for an early break. The Austrian settled into a fine rhythm, forcing the Spaniard's mistake in game eight for 5-3. Roberto served to stay in the set in game nine and played against two set points.

Bautista Agut denied them and held to prolong the set. Ofner trailed 30-0 in the tenth game before firing four booming serves, wrapping up the opener 6-4 after 42 minutes. Sebastian delivered five comfortable holds in the second set, waiting patiently for his return chances.

They came in the fifth game, with the Austrian taking an extended rally with a backhand crosscourt winner that sent him 3-2 in front. Ofner held after deuces in the sixth game and landed an ace two games later for 5-3. Sebastian forced Roberto Bautista's error in the tenth game, wrapping up a rock-solid performance and moving into the semi-final.

Frances Tiafoe Andrey Rublev Sebastian Ofner