Photo : Martin Sidorjak
Denis Shapovalov is having quite the start to his 2022 season. Since capturing the ATP Cup two Sundays ago, Shapovalov has won both of his matches at the Australian Open to reach the third round of the event for the third time in his career. The Canadian’s entertaining 7-6(6), 6-7(3), 6-7(6), 7-5, 6-2 victory against No. 54-ranked Soonwoo Kwon of Korea extends his win streak to five matches, a career-best for the 2021 Wimbledon semi-finalist.
On a sunny Wednesday in Melbourne, Australia, Shapovalov got off to a red-hot start inside Margaret Court Arena. He broke his Korean opponent in the first and fifth game and was well in command of the opening set. However, in the sixth game, while facing the sun, Shapovalov struggled on his serves, and Kwon seized his opportunity, breaking the Canadian to make it 4-2.
The World No. 54 then won four of the next five games, forcing Shapovalov to hold his serve in the 12th game to stay in the set. Shapovalov held his composure, won his service game, and carried that momentum into the tiebreak. Shapovalov clinched the set with an ace on his third set point opportunity.
Shapovalov kicked off the second set by easily winning his first three service games. He also had a chance to break his opponent in the second game, but Kwon managed to fend it off. In the seventh game, Shapovalov had a few hiccups on his serve and committed a costly double fault at 30-40 to send the game to deuce. After seeing his first two break point opportunities turned aside by the Canadian, Kwon was able to pick up the first break of the set on his third attempt.
Kwon’s lead was short-lived, as Shapovalov broke right back in the eighth game, and the set eventually needed a tiebreak. However, opposite to the first set, Kwon was the one who came out firing in the second set tiebreak. The Korean switched into another gear, had Shapovalov on his heels, and claimed the set by a score of 7-6(3).
The third set was similar to the second, as Shapovalov and Kwon exchanged breaks in the 7th and 8th games and the set went to another tiebreak. Shapovalov started the tiebreak with some heat, going 5/5 on first serves and winning 100 per cent of those points. But, on set point, Shapovalov couldn’t keep his first serve in play, and Kwon managed to keep the set alive. The heavy-hitting Korean won the following three points to clinch the set and to take the 2-1 lead.
In the fourth set, Shapovalov had ample chances to get himself back in the match. It took him until the 11th game but, he eventually got it done and sent the contest to a decider. The nail-biter continued, and the slight edge heading into the fifth set went to the World No. 14.
Right off the bat, Shapovalov got off to a commanding 3-0 lead. He was winning his service points with much more ease than his opponent. Shapovalov saved his best tennis for the decider, eventually clinching the match in the eighth game.
The Canadian now faces Reilly Opelka in the third round of the Aussie Open. The 6-foot-11 American is yet to drop a set in Melbourne and has 41 aces through six sets of play. Shapovalov and Opelka have only faced each other once – Shapovalov winning that contest 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(6).
Fernandez ousted from doubles
Leylah Annie Fernandez, who lost her opening singles match, has been officially eliminated from the Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-1 loss in doubles alongside partner Erin Routliffe of New Zealand.
The Canadian-Kiwi duo played together at the 2021 US Open and made it all the way to the round of 16. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find the level of play they had in New York and lost in two quick sets, 6-3, 6-1.
Their Australian opponents, Lizette Cabrera and Priscilla Hon converted on 5/10 of their break point chances and only allowed Fernandez and Routliffe to break their serve once.