Denis Shapovalov raises a hand in the air to express frustration.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

Denis Shapovalov’s ATP Tour season came to an end at the hands of a familiar foe on Wednesday, as he was beaten in three sets in the second round of the Paris Masters by Pablo Carreno Busta.

As has been the case throughout much of their rivalry, Carreno Busta found a way to blunt any momentum the Canadian appeared to be building as he fended off a spirited Shapovalov comeback for a 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-4 win.

The Spaniard has won five of seven matches between the two since they first met five years ago at the 2017 US Open.

It is not the last match Shapovalov will likely play this year however, as he was named to Canada’s Davis Cup team presented by Sobeys for the knockout stage of the team competition later this month.

Carreno Busta was the more steady of the pair, committing just nine unforced errors to Shapovalov’s 27. The Canadian did have more winners, 40 to 24, but put less than half his first serves in play and won just 48 per cent of his second serve points.

Shapovalov got off to a quick start in the match, breaking Carreno Busta in the opening game and taking a 40-15 lead on his own serve to consolidate. However, the game got away from him and after saving three break points, he hit back-to-back double faults to put the set back on serve.

After surrendering the initial break, Carreno Busta was the better server of the two in the first set. He also came close to breaking in the sixth game, but Shapovalov saved four break points in the game to hold for 3-all.

The first-set tiebreak provided some déjà-vu for Shapovalov. In his first-round match, he lost the opening set tiebreak against Francisco Cerundolo 7-2 and against Carreno Busta he dropped it by the exact same score. Tiebreaks have generally been kind the Spaniard in the rivalry, as he has won six of seven between the two.

Once again it was Shapovalov striking first in the second set, hitting a huge backhand passing shot to break for a 3-1 lead. This time, he did not let it slip away and broke the Spaniard for a second time as Carreno Busta served to stay in the set, sending the match to a decider with a curling forehand winner that just clipped the line.

Often the margins in the Shapovalov-Carreno Busta battles have been razor thin and this meeting was no different. In the first game of the final set, the Canadian dumped a backhand into the net and followed it up with a double fault to surrender the break.

That was all the Spaniard needed as Carreno Busta did not face a break point in the third set. In the end, he only won two more points in the match than Shapovalov.

While his year-end ranking is still to be determined, Shapovalov cannot finish higher than No. 16 in the world, which would be his lowest year-end ranking since 2018, although he is also only four spots below his best finish of No. 12 in 2020.