Dubai: Borna Coric became the fourth and last semi-finalist at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with a hard-fought 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (1) win over Nikoloz Basilashvili in the early hours of Friday.
Tied 2-2 in their past four meetings, it was Coric who got off to a slow start to eventually hang in their and play a near-perfect third set tie-breaker that saw last year’s quarter-finalist win 7-1 and set an encounter with second seed and seven-time champion Roger Federer in Friday’s second semi-final.
Involved in equally grueling three-set wins in his first two rounds that went late into the night, Coric was understandably off to a slow start as Basilashvili broke in the fifth to wrap up the opener 6-4. Coric came back strongly breaking in the second and fourth for a 5-0 lead. But the 22-year-old Croat hit a minor bump towards the end, but recovered soon enough to win the set 6-2.
The third was close as Coric broke in the fourth to get the edge he needed. But Basilashvili once again fought his way right back with a break in the seventh to draw 4-4. The younger of the two players then took his game a level higher to win a rather one-sided tie-breaker 7-1 and book his place against title-chasing Federer.
“It’s been tough getting myself back in shape after three straight days of late night matches. But somehow I have come and given myself that chance to progress,” Coric said.
“I am happy I could get past this one tonight, and tomorrow will be another day against one of the best players in the world. I hope I can find that little extra tomorrow as well,” he added.
(Singles quarter-finals) Gael Monfils bt Ricardas Berankis 6-1, 7-6, 6-2; Stefanos Tsitsipas bt Hubert Hurkacz 7-6, 6-7, 6-1; Roger Federer bt Marton Fucsovics 7-6, 6-4; Borna Coric bt Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6, 6-2, 7-6.
Order of Play (Friday) Centre Court (Start at 2.30 pm) Rajeev Ram/Joe Salisbury vs Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau; (Not before 5 pm) Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Gael Monfils; (Start at 7 pm) Borna Coric vs Roger Federer; Ben McLachlan/Jan-Lennard Struff vs Jeevan Nedunchezzhiyan/Purav Raja.