In a match that lasted just under four hours, Denis Shapovalov defeated world No.32 Jannik Sinner in a mammoth bout to advance to the second round of the Australian Open.
Shapovalov hit a whopping 62 winners past his Italian opponent to win the match 3-6 6-3 6-2 4-6 6-4 and end his opponents ten-match winning streak.Embed from Getty Images
This tie had been teed up to be a nail-biter since the draw was announced last week. And it certainly didn’t disappoint, with both players trading blows from the off to take the match to a fifth set decider.
“Matches like this are so much fun for me to play,” Shapovalov said.
“This is why I play the sport in front of fans like you guys, that are just so much fun for both guys. Win or lose, today is one of the matches that I am going to remember in my career, just because playing in one of these stadiums, the moment and the quality of tennis today, it was just so much fun to be out here.”
But Shapovalov came into the tie on a 6-match losing streak, following a tough run in the ATP Cup, losing Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic.
And Sinner set out to capitalise on that, using his ripping backhand to hit some lovely cross-court shots against the 11th seed to go 0-3 up at the start of the first set.Embed from Getty Images
After claiming back-to-back ATP Tour championships ahead of the Australian Open, Jannik Sinner has been in some great form of late. After dominating the field at last October’s Sofia Open, the Italian continued his march to claim the Great Ocean Road Open yesterday afternoon.
The 19-year-old is the youngest player to win two ATP Tour championships since Rafael Nadal in 2006, and it’s safe to say he is one of the most exciting young prospects on the ATP Tour.
But unfortunately, after a long week in Melbourne, fatigue started to set in on Sinner, who left several shots out on the court during the second and third sets.Embed from Getty Images
And Shapovalov capitalised on those errors in the second, fending off Sinners powerful returns, to save three breakpoints in the opening game and break his opponent late in the second set to draw level at one set apiece.
Sinner fought gallantly to come back and almost break his opponent in the third set, but the Canadian held firm, saving another three breakpoints to go on the offensive once again.
This time the Shapovalov moved in to attack at the net, hitting some deft drop shots back at Sinner to claim a double break and a 2-1 lead over his opponent.
Sinner responded and found his rhythm again in the fourth set, ripping some brilliant winners past his opponent to draw level at 2-2 and set us up for a fifth set show-down.
But Shapovalov immediately bounced back, wrestling a break off the young Italian and held out against an onslaught from Sinner, who played some incredible recovery shots to ask questions of the Canadian.
Sinner's recovery is unreal! https://t.co/JIHrTS52RE— AusOpen Club (@AusOpenClub) February 8, 2021
But Shapovalov made no mistakes, saving for a final breakpoint before serving out the match.
“You don’t want to play long five-sets at the beginning of the tournament, but I am just really happy to get the win,” said Shapovalov.
“Jannik is such a great opponent. Honestly, he is so talented and such a great guy. I am really happy that he has been doing well. I am sure he is going to be a really, really good player. [He is] now, but in the future, for sure.”
Shapovalov will now advance to take on Australia’s Bernard Tomic in the next round and could meet his countryman Felix Auger-Aliassime if he progresses to the third round.
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