Chris O’Connell will face No.1 seed Holger Rune in the second ATP-level semifinal of his career, and first on clay, in Munich.
Munich, Germany, 22 April 2023 | AAP / Tennis Australia
Chris O’Connell has won a war of attrition on the Munich clay to reach the second ATP Tour semifinal of his professional career at the BMW Open.
Fresh from his career-best triumph over German hero Alexander Zverev on Thursday, O’Connell followed up 24 hours later by prevailing 7-6 (5) 4-6 6-3 in a quarterfinal dogfight with Italian qualifier Flavio Cobolli.
It had been a freezing lunchtime when he downed Olympic champ Zverev, but the sun was out on Friday as O’Connell had to dig deep against the 20-year-old Cobolli, already a conqueror of another Sydneysider Jordan Thompson earlier in the event.
The 28-year-old prevailed after nearly two-and-a-half hours, overcoming a second-set letdown when he appeared to be struggling physically before summoning new reserves of energy in the decider.
First ATP semi-final on clay ?
Christopher O’Connell defeats Flavio Cobolli 7-6(5) 4-6 6-3 to reach the semis at #BMWOpenbyAmex pic.twitter.com/kDYmueOyGV
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) April 21, 2023
O’Connell had also been in trouble in the hour-long opening set, having to save three set points at 4-5 down before eventually taking the tiebreak when Cobolli offered up a double fault at set point down.
It provided world No.82 O’Connell with his first taste of last-four action in a tour-level event since he reached the semifinals in San Diego last September. It will be his first semifinal on clay.
A victory would transport O’Connell not only to his first final but also to a career-high ranking.
He’ll face a tough assignment against Denmark’s in-form defending champ Holger Rune, who disposed of Chile’s Cristian Garin 6-2 6-4 in quite ruthless fashion.
Now at a career-high world N0.7, Rune claimed his maiden event at the 2022 Munich tournament.
The 19-year-old was also a finalist at last week’s Monte Carlo Masters but admitted after outplaying Garin: “I have played a lot of matches, so the body is maybe not ideal.”
Aussies in action – Munich
Men’s singles, quarterfinals
Christopher O’Connell (AUS) d [Q] Flavio Cobolli (ITA)
Men’s singles, semifinals
Christopher O’Connell (AUS) v  Holger Rune (DEN) 7-6(5) 4-6 6-3
O’Connell cruises through… ?
He takes out Cobolli to secure his spot in the semi-finals ?
@BMWOpen23 | #bmwopenbyamex pic.twitter.com/UZ5iF67d4t
— ATP Tour (@atptour) April 21, 2023
In Barcelona, O’Connell’s fellow Sydneysider Alex de Minaur bowed out to No.2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The Greek dominated at the net, winning 17 points there, as he claimed a 6-2 6-4 victory in 81 minutes.
There was better news for Australian hopes in doubles as Matt Ebden and his Indian partner Rohan Bopanna progressed to the semifinals after victory over Mexican-French combination Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
Aussies in action – Barcelona
Men’s singles quarterfinals
 Stefanos Tsitsipas  Alex de Minaur (AUS) 6-4 6-2
Men’s doubles quarterfinals
Rohan Bopanna (IND)/Matt Ebden (AUS) d Santiago Gonzalez (MEX) /Eduoard Roger-Vasselin (FRA) 6-2 -4
Men’s doubles, semifinals
Rohan Bopanna (IND)/Matt Ebden (AUS) v  Wesley Koolhof (NED)/Neal Skupski (GBR)
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