Shapovalov Turns Back The Clock In Montreal
It was as if it was 2017 all over again. Denis Shapovalov had the Montreal crowd roaring again on Monday night during his Coupe Rogers opener.
The #NextGenATP Canadian, who made his breakthrough two years ago at the ATP Masters 1000 event, brought some of his best tennis to snap a five-match losing streak and advance 6-3, 7-5 against Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Shapovalov broke four times, including in the final games of both sets as the 20-year-old ramped up pressure against the serve-and-volleying right-hander. Shapovalov was swinging freely from the back of the court and never missing a moment to engage the red-and-white faithful in the stands.
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He donated eight double faults – and 32 unforced errors – but lost his serve only once, at the start the second set. But Shapovalov broke back immediately.
The left-hander is looking to reignite his 2019 at home. Shapovalov made his third Masters 1000 semi-final in March at the Miami Open presented by Itau (l. to Federer), but since, he hasn’t won two consecutive matches.
He will next meet World No. 4 Dominic Thiem, who’s also trying to end an unfavourable streak. Thiem has never won a match at the Canadian Masters 1000 (0-5). He won his third ATP Tour title of the season on Saturday at the clay-court Generali Open in Kitzbuhel.
Two years ago in Montreal, Shapovalov made his first Masters 1000 semi-final, beating Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal en route to becoming the youngest Masters 1000 quarter-finalist and semi-finalist in series history (since 1990). Shapovalov, a wild-card entry and No. 143 at the time, captivated the Canadian crowd with his fist pumps, shouts of “Come on!” and aesthetically-pleasing game.
Save for his his bumpy ride of late, the left-hander has steadily climbed the ATP Rankings since then, reaching a career-best No. 20 on 1 April.
In other action, 10th seed Roberto Bautista Agut went three-for-three on break points against Aussie Bernard Tomic and advanced 6-3, 6-2. The Spaniard will next meet Los Cabos titlist Diego Schwartzman or Italian Marco Cecchinato. Frenchman Richard Gasquet ousted countryman Benoit Paire 7-6(2), 6-4 and awaits fifth seed Kei Nishikori.
Did You Know?
Two years ago, Shapovalov also became the lowest-ranked Masters 1000 semi-finalist since 2003 (No. 191 Pavel).