Denis Shapovalov pumps his fist. He won his opening match at the Miami Open on Wednesday.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

Denis Shapovalov had to keep his cool on Wednesday to kick off his campaign at the Miami Open, outlasting Luciano Darderi in the first round of the Masters 1000 event in three sets. 

For much of the day, it was Shapovalov controlling the match. The Italian managed to hold his ground to extend the battle, but the 2019 Miami semifinalist found a way to dig out the 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-4 win. 

Next up for the Canadian will be a blockbuster with world No. 11 Stefanos Tsitsipas. 

It was a very strong performance from Shapovalov, who fired 55 winners, more than double his 22 unforced errors. Darderi had only 14 errors, but hit just 10 winners. The Canadian cruised on serve, blasting 16 aces, winning 77 per cent of his first serve points, and facing just a single break point in the entire match. 

Shapovalov started taking it to Darderi right from the start, applying heavy pressure in the Italian’s opening service game. He used his flashy shot making to create a few break points and converted the fourth to get off to a dream start. 

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The Canadian was largely in control, keeping Darderi guessing and under constant pressure. His measured attacking was rewarded in the seven game when he fired a winner to grab a double break lead. 

Serving for the set was the lone blip of the set for Shapovalov as he threw away a service game to keep Darderi in the set briefly, but the Canadian immediately responded by breaking again to take the set. 

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While both men were managing to hold their serves through the second set, Shapovalov was keeping Darderi under constant pressure. The Italian was pushed to deuce in each of his first four service games, although he avoided giving the Canadian any break point chances.  

Darderi managed to outwait Shapovalov in the second set. Having survived the constant pressure on his serve, the Italian was gifted some errors by Shapovalov in the tiebreak and won the last four points in a row to extend the match. 

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If Shapovalov was frustrated with having to play another set, he did not let it affect his tennis. The Canadian immediately went back to work on return, holding a couple of break points in the opening game of the third set before sending Darderi scrambling and finishing a perfectly set up break point at the net in the third game to seize the initiative in the decider.  

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Once he had the lead, Shapovalov never gave his opponent a chance to get back in the match. The Canadian did not face a break point in the final set and converted his second match point to finish off the win. 

His reward for the gritty performance will be a clash with the 10th seed Tsitsipas in round two. Shapovalov leads their head-to-head 3-2, with his three wins coming in their three hard-court matches.