Shelbayh Lives In Jeddah

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Abdullah Shelbayh will enter the final day of the group stage depending on himself to become a semi-finalist in his first participation in the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM. After a debut with a loss, the Jordanian reacted with a win over American Alex Michelsen with 4-2, 1-4, 4-0, 4-0 sets.

The 20-year-old right-hander, who lost in four sets to Frenchman Luca Van Assche on Tuesday, was smoother in his second outing in Jeddah, especially on the return. After squandering 15 break points on debut, Shelbayh was more effective on Wednesday taking advantage of five of ten break points.

A surprising difference considering Michelsen’s strong serve. The No. 97 in the ranking, who from the defeat in the fifth set (l. to Medjedovic), recorded first serves of more than 210 kilometers per hour (and seconds of 190km/h). Not enough in any case for a Shelbayh who won almost half of the return points (25 out of 55), and 16 of them in the last two sets.

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The No. 185 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, who entered the arena as the eighth and final player in Jeddah thanks to an invitation, was a steamroller at the end of the 67-minute match. He lost just 13 points in 45 games in the last two rounds, thus achieving his fourth victory against a member of the Top-100.

“Having the opportunity to play here, I couldn’t have asked for a better end of the year,” he said after the match, where he hit 26 winners, including seven aces. “I appreciate all the support I received throughout the week, of course throughout the year and especially from the Arab world.”

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Shelbayh will finish his Red Group campaign against Serbian Hamad Medjedovic on Thursday. Michelsen, for his part, will do so against Luca Van Assche.

The Jordanian needs a win in four sets or less to qualify. Or a win for him in any result and another for Michelsen against Van Assche. The American, however, needs a straight set win and another one with any result for Medjedovic against Shelbayh to advance to second place.

She will also advance by winning in four sets, as long as Medjedovic wins with anything but a fifth set result. In the Red Group, everyone will either qualify or be eliminated on Thursday.

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