For the second consecutive week Denis Shapovalov will play in an ATP Challenger Tour final after the Canadian beat Jerzy Janowicz of Poland 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) on Saturday night in Guadalajara, Mexico.
In a Jalisco Open semifinal match that saw his Polish opponent literally talk himself out of an advantageous position up one set against the 17-year-old Canadian, Shapovalov let his game do the talking, clawing back from an early deficit just as he had done in the previous day’s quarterfinal victory against Lloyd Glasspool of Great Britain.
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First set service was going swimmingly for Shapovalov until he ran into trouble at 4-4. At this juncture the Canadian found himself facing three break points and Janowicz swiftly took advantage before serving out the set for the early lead. Up until this mishap, Shapovalov had conceded just one point on serve in four games, firing six aces. Shapovalov’s temporary breakdown was nothing compared to what was about to come from his opponent.
The second set was full of controversy when Janowicz protested being disturbed by crowd interference on a baseline call. Taking a seat and refusing to continue, the Polish player received a visit from a tournament supervisor before he resumed play on a warning. At that time Janowicz was facing break point, which he conceded in the next rally. Frustrated by what he thought was a missed call, Janowicz fired a ball into the crowd and was assessed a point penalty. Things got worse for the Polish player when the chair umpire assessed a game penalty against Janowicz after he came off the court again, seemingly to change racquets. All of this led to Shapovalov amassing a 3-0 lead on his way to evening the encounter at one set apiece.
Janowicz continued to have discussions with the referee even into the early moments of the third and deciding set before settling down to play some fine tennis, including a match point opportunity up 5-4 with Shapovalov serving to stay alive. The Canadian showed tenacity to pull level, helped by a spectacular drop shot at the net.
In the third set tiebreak, Shapovalov suffered the first minibreak, which he felt resulted from an errant call, but recovered to win the next two points against Janowicz’s serve to gain the upper hand. His 12th ace of the match put Shapovalov up 5-2 in the tiebreak, before the teenager put his 26-year-old competitor away for good with a forehand smash at the net a few minutes later.
Shapovalov will have a chance on Sunday to win his third title this month and second in the Challenger division. He opened March taking the Gatineau Futures title sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation. Last weekend, Shapovalov won the National Bank Challenger of Drummondville, lifting his first trophy in that tier of competition.
Standing in Shapovalov’s way to a second Challenger title will be 25-year-old Mirza Basic from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ranked 214th in the world to Shapovalov’s no. 194, the Bosnian is in good form, dropping just one set in five matches in this tournament.
Shapovalov heads into Sunday’s final having won nine straight matches in the Challenger Tour, which will stream the final live.