Taking on a player 12 years his senior didn’t deter Denis Shapovalov, as the Canadian beat Belgium’s Ruben Bemelmans 6-3, 6-2 to win the Drummondville National Bank Challenger title on Sunday.
To go with his four Futures championships, including one in Gatineau earlier this month, 17-year-old Shapovalov now has five pro titles, his latest in the ATP Challenger Tour in Drummondville being the biggest to date in his young career.
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On the strength of a serve that consistently clocks in the 210 km/h range helping him out of trouble, and rushing to the net to put away points when required, Shapovalov held service games throughout the first set, saving three break points.
The Canadian found daylight in the opening set when Bemelmans suffered a double fault giving Shapovalov a 4-2 lead. The player from Richmond Hill, Ontario consolidated the break with a clinical serve-and-volley display in the next game, en route to taking the first set 6-3.
The more experienced Bemelmans – who reached ATP World Tour singles ranking high of number 84 in 2015 – struggled with his forehand in the opening game of the second set. The Belgian’s errors combined with a devastating passing shot by Shapovaolv when Bemelmans approached the net led the Canadian to an early break, which he swiftly consolidated at love to lead 2-0.
Facing two break points on his next service game, Shapovalov closed the gap by firing his sixth ace to pull even before going on to maintain his advantage. After holding serve, Shapovalov broke Bemelmans again for a 4-1 lead before closing out the set, match and tournament at the Belgian’s expense a few minutes later.
Shapovalov’s latest trophy comes after an emotional semifinal win over good friend and fellow Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime on Saturday. The two Canadian teens have taken turns winning three Quebec tournaments this month with Auger-Aliassime crowned in Sherbrooke following Shapovalov’s Gatineau triumph.