Revived Aussie Ebden makes Marseille semis

Perth's Matt Ebden, enjoying a remarkable return to form, has reached his first ATP Tour semi-final in three years by upsetting Karen Khachanov in Marseille.

MATTHEW EBDEN.
MATTHEW EBDEN. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Australian Matt Ebden has continued his remarkable renaissance by reaching his first ATP tour semi-final for nearly three years at the Open 13 Provence tournament in Marseille.

The 33-year-old Perth stalwart had to come from a set down to beat Russia's world No.21 Karen Khachanov 4-6 6-4 6-2 in Friday's quarter-final at the Palais des sports de Marseille.

In doing so, he left the statisticians scrabbling around to find the last time that a player ranked as low as 287 in the world reached the semi-finals of a tour event.

"Good match with Karen, takes a lot to beat him, glad I was able to play well again today. Let's keep it going," a delighted Ebden tweeted later.

His unexpected win set up a last-four meeting with another, more formidable Russian, Australian Open finalist Daniil Medvedev, who defeated young Italian star Jannik Sinner 6-2 6-4 in ominous fashion in his quarter-final.

It felt like the most unlikely victory for Ebden considering that the West Australian is ranked 266 places behind Khachanov on the ATP computer but was actually just another sign of his rejuvenation this season.

Rediscovering the form that saw him reach the world's top 40 just three years ago, Ebden, who has already reached one quarter-final in Singapore this season, has come through qualifying in Marseille to win five straight matches.

Currently only the 17th ranked player in Australia, world No.287 Ebden had to rally after losing the first set of their indoor hardcourt contest but then dominated, breaking the Russian three times in the final two sets to prevail in one hour 52 minutes.

Ebden came from a set down for the second time in the tournament - the first time in nine years that he's achieved the feat twice in the same event.

But against world No.3 Medvedev in Saturday's semi-final - the Australian's first since he lost to John Isner in Atlanta in July 2018 - Ebden knows he'll have to produce the best performance of his career to reach his first-ever ATP tour singles final.

"I will need to play my best and use every shot I have because these guys are so good," smiled Ebden on court before Medvedev came on to beat Sinner in 75 minutes.

Ranked 317 at the start of the year, though, Ebden is guaranteed to jump to at least 220 in the rankings after his win and will be back in the top-200 should he make Sunday's final.

In another major upset, Stefanos Tsitsipas' bid to win a third straight Open 13 fizzled out when he lost to doubles specialist Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-7 (8-6) 6-4 6-2 in the quarter-finals.

Herbert has a career grand slam in doubles but is ranked 93rd in singles as compared to Australian Open semi-finalist Tsitsipas' no 5 ranking.

The clean-serving Frenchman turned the tables on the big-serving Greek by effectively using serve and volley tactics.

He hit eight aces to two, won 79 per cent of his first serves compared to 64 per cent for second-seeded Tsitsipas, and clinched victory with a smart backhand volley at the net.