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Preview: Can Shapovalov Defy The Odds – And Doubters – In Djokovic Clash?

  • Posted: Jul 08, 2021

Denis Shapovalov knows a thing or two about how to bounce back stronger and prove doubters wrong. In fact, it’s the theme of a lot of his music, as the 22-year-old Canadian moonlights as a part-time rapper. 

But on his favourite surface and up against the best player in the world at Wimbledon, he’ll have to dig deeper than ever to halt five-time champion Novak Djokovic and his quest for Grand Slam history when they meet on Centre Court on Friday. 

“I think proving people wrong is what has made me who I am today,” Shapovalov said after his fourth-round win. “It’s always been that for me, for sure it’s always a constant theme. It’s how I keep inspiring myself, and keep myself going.”


From having to withdraw from Roland Garros due to a shoulder injury to reaching his first Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon, Shapovalov has been steadily picking up steam in 2021. The 10th seed arrived at the All England Club high on confidence after reaching his second grass-court quarter-final at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart and the semi-finals at the cinch Championships at The Queen’s Club. 

While his third-round win over two-time champion Andy Murray in his Centre Court debut might have grabbed all the headlines, it’s what happened afterward that might have been an even bigger win for Shapovalov. He went on to take down Roberto Bautista Agut for a place in the quarter-finals, recording his first Top 10 victory of the year and his first since last year’s US Open (Goffin). 

It was a confidence-booster for Shapovalov, who has struggled against top-ranked opponents in the past. The Canadian owns a career 1-13 win-loss record against Top 5 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings. His only victory came back in 2017 over Rafael Nadal in his breakthrough run at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers, but he’s gone on to lose his next dozen matches since – eight of those in straight sets. 

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The 22-year-old held match points against Nadal again two months ago at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, but he couldn’t close it out. The lefty shotmaker will be keen to not waste any more chances as he takes on Djokovic, who leads their 6-0 ATP Head2Head record, in the Wimbledon semi-finals. 

“The last couple of times that we’ve played, it’s been really, really tight,” Shapovalov said. “I’m feeling really good. I’m feeling great physically and tennis-wise. Obviously, he’s been playing really well. It’s definitely a tough battle ahead of me.

“When you walk out on that match, the score is 0-0. It’s a tennis match. Anything can happen. I’m going to fight for every point and believe in myself. I do believe that I have the game to beat him and the game to win that match.”

While Shapovalov works up the mental strength to defy the odds and doubters, top seed Djokovic looks primed to continue rewriting the tennis record books as he eyes a seventh Wimbledon final berth. He sits just two matches away from a monumental achievement.

Most players demure about their goals and expectations before a tournament, and often refuse to look ahead past their next match. But not Djokovic. It’s a sixth Gentlemen’s Singles Trophy or nothing, and the World No. 1 has not been shy about declaring his desire to continue breaking records in the sport.

“It’s not a secret that I am trying to win as many Grand Slams as possible. I went for historic [weeks at] No. 1 and I managed to achieve that milestone,” Djokovic said after his quarter-final win. “[Records] are a motivating factor, but they are not consuming my everyday life.

“Of course, it’s soothing to my ears and my ego, as well, that someone thinks of me that greatly. To be in that conversation [for the greatest player of all time] is obviously an honour.”

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The reigning Australian Open and Roland Garros champion, Djokovic is bidding for his third Grand Slam title in a row. Victory at the end of the fortnight would bring him his 20th major crown, bringing him level with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the all-time most Grand Slam titles in men’s singles. 

But despite the contrasts and comparisons pitting him against his fellow ‘Big Three’ greats, it is not Federer or Nadal’s records that Djokovic is after. He is determined to continue carving out his own slice of tennis history, and going about things in his own way as he does it. 

“I’m not chasing anybody. I’m making my own path and my own journey, my own history,” Djokovic said. “I’m privileged to be part of the history of this sport that I love.”

Potential Wimbledon Final H2Hs
Djokovic leads Hurkacz 2-0
Djokovic leads Berrettini 2-0
Shapovalov trails Hurkacz 1-3
Shapovalov leads Berrettini 2-0

Did You Know?
Should Djokovic win his third consecutive Wimbledon title, it would be the third time in his career that he has recorded a streak of three consecutive titles at a Grand Slam event, having done so at the Australian Open in 2013-15 and 2019-21. He would also become the fourth man in the Open Era to record a streak of three consecutive Wimbledon titles – after Federer, Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras. 

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SF Preview: Will Berrettini Or Hurkacz Seize Their Wimbledon Moment?

  • Posted: Jul 08, 2021

A Grand Slam semi-final is always a massive opportunity no matter the competitors. But for Matteo Berrettini and Hubert Hurkacz, the stakes will be even higher on Friday at Wimbledon. The question is, who will rise to the occasion and reach his first major final?

Entering the fortnight, Berrettini and Hurkacz were on completely different ends of the momentum spectrum. The Italian was flying high and a top favourite on the bottom half of the draw, fresh off a run to the Roland Garros quarter-finals and a triumph at the cinch Championships, where Berrettini lifted the biggest trophy of his career.

Hurkacz was simply searching for a match win. The Polish star, who claimed his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown earlier this year in Miami, came into the grass-court major on a six-match losing streak. Making matters worse, four of those defeats came in straight sets.

“You never know when the work is going to come good,” Hurkacz’s coach, Craig Boynton, told earlier this week. “I’ve been around enough to know that guys at this level, when they take four, five, six, seven losses in a row, they’re eventually going to come good because they’re good players.”

Read More
Diving, Smiling & Federer: Hurkacz On Grass
How Hurkacz Turned A Nightmare Streak Into A ‘Dream Come True’
The Last Time… With Berrettini
Tomljanovic On Berrettini’s Mental Game

Berrettini predictably moved into the second week with the loss of just one set. But surprisingly, Hurkacz was the only men’s singles player who made the fourth round without losing a set. The three-time ATP Tour titlist did not lose serve in his first three matches, and he faced just four break points through nine sets (all in R1 vs. Musetti).

“After winning a couple of matches, I really gained confidence, gained momentum,” Hurkacz said.

That is where Hurkacz’s run went from good to great. In a match that spanned two days, he rallied from two-sets-to-one down to oust second seed Daniil Medvedev. And on Wednesday, the 24-year-old stunned the Centre Court crowd by dismissing eight-time champion Roger Federer in straight sets. Impressively, he closed out the match with a jaw-dropping 6-0 set to make his first Grand Slam semi-final.

“Obviously walking off the court realising that I won against Roger, [it was] just a dream come true, especially here on grass in Wimbledon,” Hurkacz, who had never previously reached the second week at a major, said. “[It] felt so special with the crowd around as well.”

Hubert Hurkacz, Roger Federer
Photo Credit: AELTC/Pool/Getty Images
Berrettini battled past close friend Felix Auger-Aliassime — a first-time Slam quarter-finalist — in four tough sets. The Italian, unlike Hurkacz, has been here before. Although this is his first trip to the last four at The Championships, he powered into the semi-finals at the US Open two years ago. This time, however, the seventh seed feels more comfortable.

“I would say that it’s different, but at the same time it’s great. Obviously [at the] US Open I didn’t know before the tournament that I could achieve that. I just played match after match, and I kind of found myself in the semis. I [was] playing good, fighting like I’m doing now, but it was more unexpected,” Berrettini said. “Stepping into this tournament, I knew that I could do it. I also know that the run is not over, so it’s different. Before this tournament, I just felt that I’m a better player now. I have more experience. I had more matches on my shoulders.

“Everything that I am achieving, it’s great, but it’s not something that I didn’t expect.”

Berrettini now has a 23-5 tour-level record on grass, and a 10-match winning streak overall on the surface. The Italian uses his racquet like a hammer and pounds nail after nail into his opponents, leaving them struggling for ways to fight back.

Matteo Berrettini
Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
But Hurkacz has his own weapons, too. Although he stands 6’5”, the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals is fleet afoot and is comfortable defending if necessary. He has also made the most of the grass, rushing the net on every opportunity. The Pole has gone to net 202 times this Wimbledon — more than anyone else in the tournament — winning 74 per cent of those points. If Hurkacz is able to quickly take control of points, he might be able to stop Berrettini’s baseline onslaught, and vice versa.

In their only previous ATP Head2Head meeting, in Miami two years ago, Hurkacz defeated Berrettini 6-4, 6-3. At the time, the Pole had just started working with Boynton, and Berrettini was still relatively unknown. Both men were outside the Top 50 of the FedEx ATP Rankings and far off their current level, making this almost a fresh slate for both on the biggest of stages, primed for a breakthrough masterpiece.

History is on the line for both players. If Berrettini wins, he will become the first Italian — man or woman — to make a singles final at The Championships and just the third man from his country to reach a major championship match. If Hurkacz triumphs, he will be the first Polish man to advance to a Grand Slam final and the third player from his country to do so overall (Agnieszka Radwanska and Iga Swiatek).

“Playing Hubert is going to be really tough,” Berrettini said.

That is a given. But finding out who will seize the moment — and play World No. 1 Novak Djokovic or 10th seed Denis Shapovalov in the final — is still very much up in the air.

Did You Know?
There are three first-time Wimbledon men’s singles semi-finalists — Berrettini, Hurkacz and Shapovalov — for the first time since 2006, when Rafael Nadal, Jonas Bjorkman and Marcos Baghdatis advanced to the last four.

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Bublik, Johnson and Nishioka Headline Field in Newport; All You Need To Know

  • Posted: Jul 08, 2021

The 2019 Hall of Fame Open finalist, Alexander Bublik, will lead the field at the ATP 250 grass-court event in Newport as he goes in search of a first ATP Tour title.

American Steve Johnson won the trophy in 2018 and will compete alongside countrymen Sam Querrey, Tennys Sandgren, Marcos Giron and Denis Kudla. Other stars that have entered are World No. 56 Yoshihito Nishioka and Australian Jordan Thompson.

Established: 1976

Tournament Dates: 11-18th July 2021

Tournament Director: Todd Martin

Draw Ceremony: Saturday, 10 July TBC

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Schedule (View On Official Website)
* Qualifying: Sunday at 11:00 am
* Main draw: Monday – Saturday at 11:00 am, Sunday 12:00 pm
* Doubles final: Sunday, 18 July at TBC
* Singles final: Sunday, 18 July at 12:00 pm

How To Watch
Watch Live On Tennis TV
TV Schedule

Tickets: More Information On Official Website

Venue: International Tennis Hall Of Fame
Surface: Grass

Prize Money: €466,870 (Total Financial Commitment: €535,535) 

View Who Is Playing, Past Champions, Seeds, Points & Prize Money Breakdown

Honour Roll (Open Era)
Most Titles, Singles: John Isner (4)
Most Titles, Doubles: Jordan Kerr (5)
Oldest Champion: Ivo Karlovic, 37, in 2016
Youngest Champion: Greg Rusedski, 19, in 1993
Highest-Ranked Champion: No. 11 John Isner in 2012
Lowest-Ranked Champion: No. 214 Mark Philippoussis in 2006
Most Match Wins: John Isner (23)

2019 Finals
Singles: [1] John Isner (USA) d [7] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 7-6(2), 6-3 Read & Watch
Doubles: Marcel Granollers (SPA)/Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) d Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela (MEX) / Marcelo Arevalo (SLV) 6-7(10), 6-4, 13-11 Read More

Hashtag: #ATPNewport
Facebook: @TennisHallofFame
Twitter: @TennisHalloFame
Instagram: @tennishallofame

Did You Know?
The Hall of Fame Open is the last grass-court tournament of the season on the ATP Tour and is the only professional event to be played on the surface outside of Europe.

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Mektic/Pavic Reach 10th Tour-Level Final Of The Season At Wimbledon

  • Posted: Jul 08, 2021

Top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic continued their dream season on Thursday at Wimbledon where they moved past Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 7-6(6), 6-3, 6-7(2), 7-6(5) to reach the final.

The Croatians have won seven tour-level titles together this year, including three ATP Masters 1000s. Having reached 10 tour-level finals this season, they became the first team to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals after their quarter-final victory on Tuesday.

Mektic and Pavic, who began their partnership this year, hit 16 aces and 26 winners to overcome the American-British tandem in three hours and 24 minutes.

They will face Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos in Saturday’s final, after the fourth seeds defeated Simone Bolelli and Maximo Gonzalez 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(3).

It is the second time the Spanish-Argentine duo has advanced to a Grand Slam final, having reached the championship match at the 2019 US Open (l. to Cabal/Farah). In a dominant display, they won 82 per cent (50/61) of their first-service points and did not face a break point in the match.

Granollers and Zeballos will be aiming to win their second tour-level title of the season on Saturday, having defeated their upcoming opponents to capture the Mutua Madrid Open trophy in May.

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Nadal Accepts Wild Card Into Washington

  • Posted: Jul 08, 2021

Rafael Nadal has accepted a wild card into the Citi Open, the tournament announced Thursday. The Spaniard will compete in the ATP 500, to take place in Washington, D.C. from 2-8 August, for the first time.

“I am very excited to come to Washington for the first time,” Nadal said according to a tournament press release. “I have never been there and it’s one more place I wanted to come and play. I am looking forward to playing again and Washington shall be the best start for the U.S. Summer Swing for me. Looking forward to seeing again my U.S. fans that I haven’t seen since I won the 2019 US Open in NYC! Vamos!”

Nadal joins a loaded field that includes Canadian stars Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime, Hubert Hurkacz, Nick Kyrgios, Jannik Sinner, Sebastian Korda, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Aslan Karatsev and plenty more.

“We are thrilled to welcome Rafael Nadal, who is not just one of the greatest tennis players of all-time, but also a global sporting icon and inspiring role model to our Washington community this summer,” Citi Open Chairman and CEO of MDE Tennis Mark Ein said. “I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate the joyous return of the things we cherish like live sports, coming together as a community and our historic event than having Rafa and the rest of our very deep and exciting player field competing for the Citi Open title.”

This will be Nadal’s first tournament since reaching the Roland Garros semi-finals in June. The World No. 3 has a 23-4 record on the season and he will chase his third crown after the season following triumphs in Barcelona and Rome.

Players who have lifted the Citi Open trophy include Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Lleyton Hewitt, Ivan Lendl, Andy Roddick and Guillermo Vilas.

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