Photo : Sportfoto Zimmer/Daniel Kopatsch/Mercedes Cup
After not playing a match in almost three weeks, and not on grass in two years, Denis Shapovalov will be pulling double-duty on Friday at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart.
The Canadian kicked off his 2021 grass court season with a victory over Feliciano Lopez Friday morning, which took two days to complete due to rain.
The pair split the first two sets on Thursday before the weather postponed the deciding set until Friday. In the decider, Shapovalov regained the edge and secured the lone break for a 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-3 victory.
It is Shapovalov’s first win on a grass court since Wimbledon in 2018, snapping a five-match losing streak on the surface that lasted almost three years.
After missing the French Open with a shoulder injury, the top seed in Stuttgart looked just fine in his first grass court match in nearly two years, firing 21 aces and winning 88 percent of his first serve points.
Shapovalov came out swinging at the start of the match, immediately applying pressure to the Lopez serve and was rewarded with a break in the third game.
He promptly added a second in the Spaniard’s next service game, cruising through the opening set in just 35 minutes.
Lopez, who has won four of his seven career titles on grass, was not going away quietly. He hung with his young opponent through a second set that did not see a break point chance for either player.
In the tiebreak, it was the Spaniard’s experience that won out as he raced out to a 3-0 lead. All consistency appeared to disappear from Shapovalov’s game as errors flew off his racket and he dropped the breaker 7-2.
After the tiebreak, the rain came, pushing the match over to Friday.
Coming out of the restart, Shapovalov looked to have regained his set-one form when he earned break points in Lopez’s first service game, but committed errors to miss all three opportunities.
Shapovalov got another look at 4-3 when he was gifted double break point by some uncharacteristic errors from Lopez. The Spaniard dumped a forehand into the net to give way the break and set up the top seed to serve out the match at 5-3.
The Canadian took full advantage, closing out the match to 15 with a big serve.
Shapovalov will take on Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals later on Friday.