Denis Shapovalov’s campaign at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia came to a quick end on Thursday afternoon in Rome, as the Canadian went down to World No. 1 and recent Madrid Open champion Novak Djokovic in the second round.
Shapovalov, who recorded his first ATP Tour level win on clay earlier in the week with a straight-sets victory over Pablo Carreno Busta, struggled to deal with Djokovic’s unflinching consistency, particularly off the backhand wing, and went down an early break in the first set. That early break soon became insurmountable, as a second break of the Shapovalov serve helped seal the set in just under half an hour.
The second set saw a resurgence of energy in Shapovalov’s game following a hold of serve in the first game after saving two break points. The 20-year-old would begin to dial in his groundstrokes, frustrating Djokovic to the point of breaking his racquet against his shoe midway through the set.
The racquet abuse warning seemed to settle the 15-time Grand Slam champion, however, as he wrestled control of the match with pin-point counterpunching – and a few more unforced-error donations off the Shapovalov racquet. After one hour and six minutes, Djokovic was the 6-1, 6-3 victor.
Although Shapovalov was able to save nine of 13 break points, his serve ultimately let him down against a returner of Djokovic’s quality. With a first-serve percentage of just 52 per cent, he only managed to win 56 per cent of those points, while only managing to win a total of 8 points on return compared to his esteemed opponent’s 31.
Up next for the Canadian is the Lyon Open, the last warm-up event prior to the French Open. He joins Félix Auger-Aliassime in the main draw as both Canadians look to gather momentum heading into the second Grand Slam of the season.
(Feature photo: Peter Staples/ATP Tour)