ATP Auckland: Ben Shelton wins. Cameron Norrie withdraws

Arthur Fils and Taro Daniel are through into the semi-final

by Jovica Ilic
ATP Auckland: Ben Shelton wins. Cameron Norrie withdraws
© Phil Walter / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The top seed Ben Shelton is through into the Auckland semi-final. The young American took down Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 40 minutes, remaining on the title course. The American had to work hard against the Spaniard, who has improved his hard-court game.

Ben landed only seven aces and produced shaky numbers behind the second serve, facing eight break points. The giant server denied seven, losing serve once and keeping the pressure on the other side. Carballes Baena served at 58% and dropped serve three times from seven opportunities offered to Shelton, ending his run in the quarter-final.

They stayed close to each other in the mid-range and most advanced rallies, and Ben forged the victory in the shortest range up to four strokes. The Spaniard passed the American at the net with a forehand down the line winner in the encounter's first game for a break chance.

Ben denied it with an ace and blasted another down the T line following another deuce to bring the game home. Shelton passed Carballes Baena with a lob winner in the second game, creating two break chances. The American painted a backhand down the line winner, seizing the first and opening a 2-0 advantage.

Roberto tamed Ben's serve in the third game and earned three break points. He converted the second, pulling the break back and reducing the deficit to 2-1. Shelton squandered game points at 2-2 and experienced a break point after a loose volley.

The giant server denied it with a powerful initial shot and closed the game with an ace down the T line for 3-2. The American served at 3-3 and played his fourth consecutive loose service game! He erased the first break point with a forehand crosscourt winner and denied the second with a service winner, keeping his serve intact.

They served well in games eight and nine, and Roberto needed another good hold at 4-5. The Spaniard missed a shot at the net and faced a set point. He saved it with a service winner before the American earned the second.

Taro Daniel, Auckland 2024© Phil Walter / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Shelton converted it after Carballes Baena's loose forehand, wrapping up the first part of the match in 54 minutes.

They played two shaky service games in the middle of the second set, with the Spaniard saving two break points at 1-2 and the American following that in the next one. Ben saved them with winners and landed a crafty drop shot to bring the game home and move 3-2 in front.

Roberto served at 3-4 and netted a routine backhand, losing serve and falling 5-3 behind. Ben served for the victory in game nine and landed two powerful serves at 30-30 for a straight-sets triumph and a place in the last four.

The 2nd seed Cameron Norrie propelled a qualifier Alejandro Tabilo into the semi-final without stepping on the court. The Briton has been dealing with a wrist injury, not risking anything ahead of the Australian Open and traveling to Melbourne.

The 6th seed Arthur Fils led 7-6, 1-0 against Daniel Altmaier when the German retired, pushing the young Frenchman into the semi-final.

Ben Shelton, Arthur Fils and Taro Daniel won in Auckland.

It was a tight encounter, with nothing separating the two rivals.

The servers made a reliable start, offering nothing to the returners in the first set. The German held after deuces in the 12th game to prolong the battle and introduce a tie break. Fils claimed all five points behind the initial shot, and Altmaier failed to follow that pace.

Arthur earned a mini-break at 1-1 and moved 5-1 in front with another. The Frenchman clinched the breaker 7-2, gaining a boost ahead of set number two. Struggling with an injury, Daniel got broken in the second set's first game, deciding to retire and not risk anything ahead of the Australian Open.

Taro Daniel and Alexandre Muller battled for two hours and 40 minutes, and the Japanese prevailed 6-4, 6-7, 6-3. Thus, Daniel will compete in his first ATP semi-final since Belgrade in April 2021. Taro saved eight out of ten break points and stole the rival's serve four times to emerge at the top.

The Japanese had the advantage in the shortest range up to four strokes, securing the victory in that segment.

Arthur Fils, Auckland 2024© Fiona Goodall / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Muller came from 6-4, 4-0 down, making a notable comeback in the second set before falling short in the decider.

Daniel sailed through his service games in the opening set, providing five comfortable holds and keeping the pressure on the other side. The Japanese pushed strong on the return in the third game, landing a smash winner at the net and gaining an early advantage.

Daniel served for the opener at 5-4 and held at love with a service winner for a boost. Taro grabbed a double break at the beginning of the second set, netting a volley in the third game and finding himself miles behind. Alexandre pulled one break back in the sixth game and missed three break chances in game eight.

Daniel served for the victory at 5-4 and played another loose service game, getting broken and bringing Muller back to 5-5. The set went into a tie break, and the Frenchman claimed it 7-3 with a return winner, forcing a decider after an hour and 48 minutes.

Taro denied two break points at 2-2, avoiding another setback. The Japanese earned a break in the next one, moving 4-2 in front and serving for the victory at 5-3. Daniel saved a break point with a forced error and held with a booming serve for a place in the last four.

Ben Shelton Cameron Norrie Taro Daniel