Australia’s Matt Ebden took on Croatia’s world no. 19 Borna Coric for a spot in the Shanghai ATP Masters 1000 semis. A win for Ebden would see him as the top-ranked Australian on the ATP World Tour rankings. It would also be his first semifinal at this level. Back in 2011, as a qualifier, Ebden had also reached the quarterfinals before losing in straight sets to Andy Murray, the then world no. 4.
Coric has reached one Masters semifinal, that came at Indian Wells in 2018.
Ebden got off to a good start, winning the opening service game then breaking Coric in the second game. Coric was able to hit back immediately to make it 1-2, the 2-2. Games went with serve until the 11th game when Coric again got a break of serve. He would then serve out the set to make it 7-5.
Coric again was putting pressure on Matt Ebden in the third game as earned two break points. It took just one as Ebden hit wide on a forehand. Coric was now ahead 2-1 as he stepped up to serve. Back-to-back aces helped to consolidate the break for a 3-1 lead.
With Ebden serving, Coric again had a look at two break points. This time Ebden played some patient points to get back to deuce, this was helped by a few unforced errors coming from Coric. Ebden served a double-fault at deuce then compounded that error by hitting long on the next point. That gave Coric his third break point of the game and the fifth double-fault handed the game to Coric. The Croatian was now in control at 4-1 in the second set.
During the change of ends, Ebden received a bit of treatment on his right shoulder.
When it looked likely that Coric would cruise to victory, Ebden found himself at 0-40 with Coric serving. One break point was saved but a well-hit backhand forced an error from Coric as he hit into the net to hand back one break of serve. Ebden was now serving at 2-4. The Australian world no. 51 would hold to move to within a game of Coric.
Ebden again called for treatment to his shoulder during the change of ends and was grimacing in pain as he removed his shirt. After the physio had seen to Ebden he ran over to Coric to massage Coric’s right thigh.
Coric was able to return to the court and hold with ease. That took him to one game from an appearance in the semifinals. Edben then held to love to force Coric to serve out the match.
Coric would win the first point, but then had to run to a ball close to the net, he failed to execute the shot and hit into then net. The next point also saw a shot into the net to give Ebden some hope. An ace got things back on track for Coric as he moved to 30-30. Some good deep hitting from Coric forced an error from Ebden, this gave Coric his first match point. It took just the one match point, but only just. Coric rushed the net after Ebden’s return fell short. Coric flicked a shot wide to Ebden’s forehand and the Australian hit a passing shot that clipped the net and landed close to the line. The call was out. Ebden challenged to confirm the call. The graphic showed that the ball had landed just a cm out.
Coric took the match 7-5, 6-4 in 1 hour and 33 minutes. He awaits the winner of the match between Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori.
For Ebden it was a good week, the highlight was his defeat of world no. 7 Dominic Thiem in the second round. Ebden should be at a career-high ranking of no. 40 once the rankings are updated next week.