Shapovalov stretch forehand

Photo: Martin Sidorjak

Playing in his fifth ATP final of his career and first of the season, Denis Shapovalov came up short in his bid for a second title, falling 6-4, 7-6(5) to Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in the championship match at the Eugene Korea Open Tennis Championships, an ATP 250 event in Seoul.

As he had done all week, the 23-year-old Canadian employed an aggressive style of play, finding a good rhythm on serve and his forehand, hitting a total of 38 winners in the contest. Still, Nishioka managed to diffuse Shapovalov’s power and overcome a 1-3 deficit in the second set thanks to his trademark defence from the back of the court combined with some impressive shotmaking. He showed a lot of resilience en route to his second career ATP singles title and has now won both of his head-to-head meetings against Shapovalov.

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“First and foremost, congrats to Yoshi (Nishioka). I mean you’re playing incredible this year. You’re super annoying to play,” said Shapovalov during the trophy presentation ceremony. “It was super frustrating for me, I tried to find a way and I think I did everything I could, so congrats, and to your coach as well, you guys deserve it.”

Shapovalov now holds a record of 1-4 in ATP finals with his lone title coming in 2019 at Stockholm after defeating Filip Krajinovic in the title bout. He reached the Seoul final without dropping a set to post his best individual result of 2022 which will allow him to move up two spots to no. 22 when the new ATP rankings are published on Monday.

Shapovalov will now move on to play in the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, an ATP 500 tournament in Tokyo. He is seeded seventh in the draw and will face American Steve Johnson in the opening round.