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Czech debutant Lehecka to break top 100 after reaching Rotterdam semis

The 20-year-old world No 137 is the lowest-ranked player to make the last four in Rotterdam since 1995

Jiri Lehecka AI / Reuters / Panoramic

For every aspiring young player, breaking into the world’s top 100 is a landmark moment they will remember for ever. For the 20-year-old Jiri Lehecka, that moment will come on Monday.

Though he also qualified for the Australian Open, this was his first time in the main draw of an ATP Tour event. The world No 137 beat Corentin Moutet in qualifying, world No 12 Denis Shapovalov in round one and followed it up on Friday by beating another talented youngster, Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti, 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 to reach the semi-finals of the ABN/AMRO World Indoor Tournament in Rotterdam.

“Incredible feeling,” Lehecka told the crowd in an interview on court. “The things I am achieving here are incredible. This is the big stage and I am happy I can be here and play these matches. Today it was another tough match against an incredibly tough opponent. I will now try and rest ahead of tomorrow and we will see.”

He’s the lowest-ranked player to reach the semis of the event since 1995, when then world No 225 Omar Camporese of Italy made the last four. Camporese had been ranked as high as No 18 in his career at one stage, though, while Lehecka is just beginning what he hopes will be a long career.

Top seed Tsitsipas next for Lehecka

A former junior champion in doubles at Wimbledon, Lehecka has played most of his career on the Challenger Tour. After losing in qualifying in Montpellier, he tried his luck in Rotterdam and what a decision that was, his performances taking him all the way to the semis, where he’ll play top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Alex de Minaur of Australia 6-4, 6-4.

Lehecka hit six aces, 24 winners to 22 unforced errors and even when Musetti went on a streak to win the second set and take a lead in the second, he didn’t panic, righting the ship and then breaking again to claim his place in the semi-finals.

Musetti would have broken into the world’s top 50 for the first time had he beaten Lehecka but the young Italian will still climb to No 57 on Monday, which would equal his career-high.

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