Mens 12 Jan 2024

Favourites fall in singles as champions back in doubles at ASB Classic Finals

by ASB Classic
Favourites fall in singles as champions back in doubles at ASB Classic Finals

The favourites fell in the men’s singles while the champions return for the doubles for the ASB Classic men’s final day at the ASB Tennis Arena.

Thirty-year-old US-based Japanese player, Taro Daniel bettered top seed Ben Shelton 7-5 7-6 in the first semifinal after an epic tiebreak where he prevailed 11-9 a.

Following this, the unheralded Alejandro Tabilo, who was a qualifier this week, outlasted the super-teenager Arthur Fils (FRA) 6-2 7-5.

Daniel has won one ATP Tour title after winning on clay in Istanbul in 2018, while Tabilo becomes the first Chilean to make a hard-court time since the Beijing Olympics, with his win today elevating him inside the top 60 in the world.

Completing the day Wesley Koolhof (NED) and Nikola Mektic (CRO) edged the French pair of Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul 5-7 7-6 10-7 in their doubles semifinal, with Mektic part of the winning team last year.

They will take on Marcel Granollers (ESP) and Horacio Zeballos (ARG) in the final, after they disposed of Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow from USA 6-3 6-4.

Granollers is one of the most experienced doubles players, having success in winning the doubles title at the ASB Classic 13 years ago with the great Tommy Roebredo.

Fils looked out of touch in the first set against Tabilo, losing 6-2 but found some resilience to open a 5-2 advantage in the second. But Tabilo won four straight games for the 6-5 lead and after a myriad of advantage play for both players, Fils made the final mistake hand the win to Tabilo 6-2 7-5.

“I came here with no thoughts I could make the final, just to do my best, take it match by match and see if I could get through the quallies. I am just so happy to be in the finals,” said Tabilo.

“I came out very aggressive and defended very well and made sure he felt my presence and made him hit every ball. I had to make sure he felt he could not take control so I could counter-attack.

“This is an unbelievable feeling. In the last three years I have had some injuries and had to keep working my way back up and very happy to be back. He hit some crazy winners on those big points but just happy I was able to serve it out.”

In the earlier semifinal, the accuracy of the Daniel serve and the precision with his ground strokes, did not present Shelton with any opportunities.

Nothing separated the pair through to 5-5 with Sheldon missing an opportunity in the next game and then dropping his own serve for Daniel to claim the first set 7-5.

The second set was a slug-fest with Sheldon unleashing his powerful serve, but he could not convert that into his advantage.

He was up 6-5 on the back of his best game but could not break the Daniel serve as they headed to the second-set tiebreak. There were chances for both with Sheldon the more likely but Daniel levelled and led 10-9 and then Sheldon hit long which gave the American-based Japanese player the victory.

“It is real relief. I kept myself in there and right now I am unsure what I am feeling but definitely happy to be in the finals,” said Daniel

“It is a big win. Even though he wasn’t playing at his best, but to keep him there is a really important skill and that is going to be important in the coming years.

“There is a tendency to get really excited in those moments and anxious, so I told myself to keep doing what I have been doing. There’s a lot of energy from the crowd so there is a tendency to want to use that and hit a really big shot but you have to calm down.

“There’s such a nice vibe in centre-court. It was the first time I have played there yesterday – it is such a fun, relaxed and nice event. I was trying to get into Adelaide but saw I had a chance to get into the main draw here so I came and look where I am. It’s crazy.”

The doubles final starts at 11.30am 13 January followed by the singles at 2pm.


Semifinals, Singles: Taro Daniel (JPN) bt Ben Shelton (USA) 7-5 7-6, Alejandro Tabilo (CHI) bt Arthur Fils (FRA) 6-2 7-5.

Doubles: Wesley Koolhof (NED) and Nikola Mektic (CRO) bt Sadio Doumbia (FRA) and Fabien Reboul (FRA) 5-7 7-6 10-7, Marcel Granollers (ESP) and Horacio Zeballos (ARG) bt Nathaniel Lammons (USA) and Jackson Withrow (USA) 6-3 6-4.