Denis Shapovalov continues to reach milestones in his first full year on the ATP World Tour. This week? His first tour-level win on clay.
It’s no surprise that Shapovalov’s flashy, explosive game is better suited to faster surfaces, but his all-court tactics and his speed around the court doesn’t make clay-court success feel impossible. On Sunday, the 19-year-old finally proved that he has the game to make an impact on any surface, dispatching recent Australian Open quarterfinalist Tennys Sandgren 6-1, 6-4 at the Mutua Madrid Open.
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Shapovalov couldn’t have planned for a better start against his American opponent, racing off to a blistering 5-0 lead before eventually closing out the first set on a return error off the Sandgren forehand. He finished the set with 11 winners to just three unforced errors, and allowed Sandgren zero winners of his own.
The Canadian was just as clinical in the second set. He secured an early break of his opponent’s serve in the third game, and it was smooth sailing from there. Shapovalov finished the match with an astonishing 86% of service points won and didn’t face a single break point in the 54-minute contest.
The win was the Richmond Hill native’s first on clay courts at the tour-level, having lost his previous two matches on the surface, both of which took place this year in Monte Carlo and Budapest.
Next up for Shapovalov is either No. 15 seed Lucas Pouille or Benoit Paire, with potentially Milos Raonic or World No. 5 Grigor Dimitrov awaiting in the third round.
(Feature photo: Getty Images)