Tennis: Top seed Ben Shelton crashes out of ASB Classic in straight sets as unseeded Taro Daniel reaches final

Top seed Ben Shelton has fallen at the semi-final stage of the ASB Classic, beaten in straight sets by the unseeded Taro Daniel of Japan.  

A day after second seed Cameron Norrie's exit after pulling out with a wrist injury, Shelton also failed to make the most of his seeding advantage, falling to the unseeded 30-year-old 7-5, 7-6 (11-9).  

Daniel's win gives him the chance to become the first Japanese player to win the ASB Classic, having already become the first man from his nation to reach the semi-finals.   

So far in his career, Daniel has won just one ATP singles title, coming at Istanbul in 2018.  

Despite Shelton appearing to be the more fluent of the two early on, Daniel seized the initiative with the only break of the opening set.  

At 5-5, the 30-year-old caught the top-seed off guard to break, and then held at the other end to take a surprise lead in 56 minutes.  

And with neither Shelton nor Daniel able to break serve at all in the second set, a tiebreaker was needed for the top-seed to have any chance of staying in the tournament.


Still, neither player could pull away, until Daniel had his first match point at 6-5, on Shelton's serve. The American was able to save it, though, and earn a set point of his own.  

But Daniel held his nerve to save, and then gave himself another chance at taking victory at 8-7 in the tiebreaker.   

As Shelton saved his second match-point at the other end, the top-seed squandered his second set point, before giving his opponent a third chance to reach the final.  

And as the third hour of play approached, it was third time lucky for Daniel, who sealed his victory when Shelton hit the ball long, and handed his opponent victory in 1h 59m.   

Daniel will meet Alejandro Tabilo in Saturday's final, after the unseeded Chilean accounted for sixth-seed Arthur Fils in straight sets.

The 26-year-old has the chance to win his first ATP career title, in what will be a clash between two unseeded players.

It took Tabilo four attempts to seal his victory, as Fils looked to force a second set tiebreak. But after 1h 48m, the Chilean was able to convert match point, and advanced courtesy of a 6-2, 7-5 win.