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 victory against the American Alex Michelsen with sets of 4-2, 1-4, 4-0, 4-0.
The 20-year-old right-hander, who lost in four sets to Frenchman Luca Van Assche on Tuesday, was much neater in his second outing in Jeddah, especially with the return. After wasting 15 break points in the debut, Shelbayh was much more effective on Wednesday taking advantage of five of ten break points.
A surprising contrast considering Michelsen’s powerful serve. The No. 97 in the rankings, who was coming off a defeat in the fifth set (l. to Medjedovic), recorded first serves of more than 210 kilometers per hour (and seconds of 190km/h). Insufficient in any case for a Shelbayh that won almost half of the points with the return (25 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 in the finale of the 67-minute match. He only lost 13 points out of 45 played in both final rounds, thus achieving his fourth victory against a member of the Top-100.
“Having the opportunity to play here, I couldn’t ask for a better end to the year,” he said after the match, in which he hit 26 winners, including seven aces. “I appreciate all the support I have been receiving throughout the week, of course throughout the year and especially from the Arab world.”
Shelbayh will end 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 victory for him with any result and another for Michelsen against Van Assche. The American, however, requires a straight sets victory and another with any result for Medjedovic over Shelbayh to advance in second place.
He would also advance by winning in four sets, as long as Medjedovic wins with anything but a fifth set result. In the Red Group, everyone can qualify or be eliminated on Thursday.