Photo: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Another tournament, another quarter-finals appearance for Denis Shapovalov. The Canadian was forced to rally from behind to beat France`s Ugo Humbert but the reality was that once he found his groove, there was only going to be one winner in the Italian Open Round of 16.
Heading into Friday’s match, Shapovalov and Humbert had faced each other just twice before. The Canadian had won their only previous encounter on clay, carving out a 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-2 victory in Lyon in 2019. Humber had returned the favour with a 7-5, 6-4 win on the hard courts of Auckland earlier this year.
The first set came and went without a single break of serve – though Shapovalov did have to work hard to successfully defend five break points against a hungry-looking Humbert. The resulting tiebreak was barely more fruitful, with a single minibreak being decisive in the Frenchman’s favour.
Following that setback, Shapovalov immediately shifted into gear and won the second set at a canter, without having to face a single breakpoint. The Canadian was supreme on-serve, winning 10 of 12 first serve points and six of six second serve points, on his way to a simple 6-1 win.
The third and final set started in the best-possible fashion for Shapovalov, who dispatched the second of two break point opportunities. The 21-year-old then held serve well and kept calm to see out the match 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4. He will now face Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals after he beat Jack Sinner earlier in the day.