Denis Shapovalov is through to the semifinals of the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships after saving one match point to defeat Jan-Lennard Struff 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-4.
Shapovalov was on the back foot early on in the match, missing out on three break points in the German’s opening service game only to be broken himself in the fifth game. Struff, who earlier this week upset top-seeded Marin Cilic in the first round, served impressively and took advantage of a flurry of unforced errors off the Shapovalov forehand to ultimately claim the first set after 41 minutes.
In the second set, both players held serve with ease. Although Shapovalov faced a break point at 5-all, he was able to save it after a long rally drew an unforced error off the Struff racquet. In the tiebreak, the Canadian earned two set points, losing the second of the two on a Struff backhand that clipped the tape – only for karma to repay him in kind on match point down with his own net cord winner.
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Shapovalov would claim the second set on his third set point and used the momentum to pull ahead 3-1 in the decider. The one break would be all the unseeded 19-year-old would need to claim victory, eventually serving out the set
The result puts Shapovalov into his third semifinal of the year following final-four finishes in Delray Beach (l. to Frances Tiafoe) and Madrid (l. to Alexander Zverev.) He will look to reach his first tour-level final on Saturday in Tokyo.
(Feature photo: Hiroshi Sato)