Denis Shapovalov raise his racket and taps his chest to acknowledge the crowd in Tokyo.

Photo : @denis_shapo

Denis Shapovalov was out-served on Saturday in the semifinals of the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships as he was eliminated by American Taylor Fritz in three sets.

The Canadian struggled to generate chances on Fritz’s serve throughout the match and found himself playing from behind for most of the match. Despite rallying to force a deciding set where he took an early lead, he was unable to find a permanent solution to the American’s game as he fell 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3.

Normally a dominant serve performance is the key to a Shapovalov victory, but he struggled more than usual on Saturday, only winning 61 per cent of his first serve points while Fritz scored 82 per cent of his own.

Even beyond the serve, Fritz was slightly better in the semifinal clash, striking 33 winners to Shapovalov’s 28, while only committing 25 unforced errors to the Canadian’s 36.

Early on in the match, Shapovalov’s struggles on return seemed unlikely as he held a break point on Fritz’s serve in the opening game. But he was unable to convert and then sent a forehand wide when facing break point on his own serve to go down 1-3.

That lone break was all Fritz needed to take the opening set as he followed it up with three straight holds to 15.

Again, in the second, Shapovalov failed to convert an early break point on his opponent’s serve and was swiftly broken, this time in the very next game, to trail by a set and a break. However, the Canadian was not going away quietly and finally managed to break through, drawing a forehand error from Fritz in the next game to level the set at 3-all.

In the second set tiebreak, Shapovalov was two points from defeat at 5-5 but some excellent attacking tennis from the Canadian scored him the next two points to send the match to a deciding set.

For the first time in the match, Shapovalov was able to take advantage of an early opening in the third set, breaking serve in the third game and holding for a 3-1 lead.

But from there, Fritz took over. A forehand long on break point allowed the American to break back and level the set at 3-3. He then broke again, converting with a running lob hit while falling down, to set himself off to serve out the match, which finished off with an ace.

Fritz won the last five games of the match in a row. Just by reaching the final in Tokyo, he will enter the Top 10 in the ATP rankings for the first time in his career.

The semifinal appearance for Shapovalov was his second at the ATP 500 level in 2022.