Doubles specialist Pierre-Hugues Herbert continued his impressive singles run in Shenzhen, China, saving two match points Saturday in a thrilling 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (8) semifinal upset of seventh-seeded Alex De Minaur.
The Frenchman, winner of three Grand Slam titles in doubles, saved the match points in the third-set tiebreaker at 6-5 and 7-6. Herbert served five of his nine aces against the Australian in the final set.
In Sunday’s final, Herbert will face Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka, ranked No. 171 in the world. Both men are seeking their first career singles title.
“I’m really happy and proud of myself,” said Herbert, who won the French Open doubles title this year with partner Nicolas Mahut. “My plan is to rest and have a good night and be ready for tomorrow. It’s my dream to lift the trophy.”
Nishioka survived 14 aces and rallied to defeat fifth-seeded Fernando Verdasco of Spain, 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) in two hours, 22 minutes.
This is the first ATP final for Nishioka and the second for Herbert, who was runner-up in Winston-Salem, N.C., in 2015. It will be their first meeting.
Australian qualifier Bernard Tomic extended his success against seventh-seeded Joao Sousa of Portugal and reached his sixth ATP final with a 6-4, 6-4 victory in Saturday’s semifinals in Chengdu, China.
Tomic served 12 aces, fended off all three break points and improved to 4-0 against Sousa. In his first final since Acapulco in 2016, Tomic will face top-seeded and World No. 13 Fabio Fognini of Italy.
The 31-year-old Fognini advanced to his fourth final of 2018 (18th overall) with a 6-7 (5), 6-0, 6-3 victory against American Taylor Fritz.
Fognini cruised after losing the first set in a tiebreak, breaking Fritz six times over the last two sets.
“I returned really well and was moving better and better,” Fognini said. “I am happy to be in the final.”
If Fognini wins Sunday, he would become the first Italian to win four ATP titles in a season. His previous wins were at Los Cabos in Mexico, Bastad in Sweden, and Sao Paulo, Brazil.
“Fabio is playing ridiculous,” Tomic said. “He has won three titles this year and he wants to win another one.”
Fognini is 2-1 in his career against Tomic, winning their most recent meeting on the clay at the Madrid Masters in 2016. Tomic won the only previous hardcourt clash at the Paris Masters in 2015.
—Field Level Media