True to the way the 2019 of the ASB Classic has played out, the semifinals feature some surprising entries. Pablo Carreno Busta fell in a three set thriller and Fabio Fognini was dismissed by Philipp Kohlschreiber, leaving no seeded players in the last four.
Tennys Sandgren vs Philipp Kohlschreiber
For the second year in a row, Tennys Sandgren has put together a good run early in the year. While his ranking will likely take a hard hit soon, his good wins over solid players like Marco Cecchinato and Leonardo Mayer will give him great confidence even if he loses to former champion and 2013 finalist, Philipp Kohlschreiber. Kohlschreiber is a stronger player than Sandgren in every way but particularly his more potent serve and exceptional backhand will make the difference. Kohlschreiber’s trouble free victory over Fabio Fognini–an upset based on seeding but not entirely surprising–is a good indicator of the level of tennis he is producing at the moment. Kohlschreiber’s history at the Auckland Open will also help him mentally. He has reached this stage or the competition before and twice won through against players with more impressive results to their name than Sandgren for a spot in the final.
Prediction: Kohlschreiber in 2
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Cameron Norrie vs Jan-Lennard Struff
Cameron Norrie’s victory over Taylor Fritz was not technically an upset as the two are similarly ranked and at similar stages in their respective careers. However, if for no other reasons than Fritz’s dangerous serve and the impressive mental fortitude he displayed in toppling John Isner, it felt like a surprising result. Norrie has been impressive throughout his budding 2019 campaign, maximizing his game and showing the on court results of what was clearly an intensive off season of concentrated training. Jan-Lennard Struff, however, enters the match a slight favorite, provided his thrilling three-set, three tie-break victory over fourth seed Pablo Carreno Busta has not left him depleted. Struff’s game plan against Carreno Busta was perfectly executed: serve strong, and hope that, in a tie-break, his bigger shots and more aggressive game could get him past the Spaniard. Norrie is nowhere near as established a player as Carreno Busta. Though Norrie has a more aggressive style of play than Carreno Busta, Struff will stick to his plan of backing up his big serve with powerful forehands and clean net play.
Prediction: Struff in 3
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