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Ebden, the chief's surprise

Apart from an exchange of breaks in the third and fourth games of the set, there was not much to declare about the start of this first quarter-final, between the surprise of the tournament Matthew Ebden, ranked 287th and coming from the qualifiers - and incidentally still competing in singles and doubles - and Karen Khachanov, seeded No. 3 in the draw and winner of the Open 13 Provence in 2018. Despite the 266 places that separate the two men in the world rankings, the Australian held his own against the Russian. To the point of surprising him and, in fact, destabilising him a little. But when he was down 4-5 on serve, the Australian showed the first signs of mental weakness, no doubt caught up in the pressure. On the other side of the net, Khachanov noticed this and took advantage of it to accelerate the game. The result: a break and a first set win for the Russian, 6-4 in 41 minutes.

Was Ebden going to give up? That would be to misunderstand him. Not only did he not give up, but at 2-2 in the second set, he took his opponent's serve and confirmed his lead to 4-2. And thanks to his 70% of first shots, Ebden managed to equalise at 1 set all (6-4).

At 1-1 in the last set, Khachanov finds himself down 0-40. The pressure at the end of the first set seems far away. On the second break point, the Australian takes advantage of yet another unforced error by his opponent to win the set. Unlike Khachanov, Ebden confirms (3-1). The Australian plays an exceptional return game, including a backhand counter that gives him the lead at 4-1. Then 5-1.

Khachanov is a shadow of his former self. On the other side, it's Speedy Gonzales. Ebden is all over the place. Nevertheless, he fails to convert one of the two match points that come his way. But the Aussie concludes in the next game without a moment's hesitation. 4-6 6-4 6-2 in 1 hour and 52 minutes, Ebden is in the semi-finals. Incredible when you think that he had been so close to a correction in the first round of qualifying and then against Benjamin Bonzi.

In the semi-finals, Matthew Ebden will face Daniil Medvedev or Jannik Sinner. For him, it will be exactly the same as today: "I will have to play very well and use all the shots I know how to do, because it will be very, very strong against them. After a while, he too (pun intended!) will make his opponents tremble.


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