Denis Shapovalov slices a backhand. He lost to Ben Shelton on Saturday at Wimbledon.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

Denis Shapovalov had no answers to the big serve of Ben Shelton at Wimbledon on Saturday, going down to the American in the third round at the All England Club in five sets. 

The match briefly started on Friday before being pushed over to Saturday due to rain. Throughout the match, the Canadian was under constant pressure from the big-serving Shelton and struggled to handle his aggression, cracking a few too many times in a 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 loss. 

Mistakes proved costly for Shapovalov in the encounter, as he had 13 double faults and 46 unforced errors overall. Shelton was his usual dominant self on serve, winning 81 per cent of his first-serve points and saving three of four break points. 

Earlier in the tournament, Shelton had set a record for the fastest serve ever at Wimbledon. Shapovalov had a chance to break the mighty delivery in the very first game, but the American saved it with a forehand winner. The Canadian would not have another break point until the fourth set. 

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On his own serve, Shapovalov got off to a terrible start, as he missed his first six serves in a row to fall behind love-40. However, once he started landing them, the rallies mostly went his way and the Canadian managed to roar back and hold. 

Only five games were completed before the rain came and never left, washing out all play on the outer courts on Friday and delaying the match until Saturday. 

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When they came back, now under the roof on court one, both men had no problem cruising through the rest of the first set on serve. Even the tiebreak was dominated by the servers, with just a single minibreak being the difference. That went the way of Shapovalov, who moved decisively ahead 5-3 courtesy of a backhand miss from Shelton. 

The American upped the aggression to start the second, drawing a slew of errors from Shapovalov to break in the opening game. Shelton’s big hitting continued to cause problems for the Canadian and it earned him a second break for a 4-1 lead. 

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With the way he was serving, topping out at 140 MPH, that was more than enough cushion for Shelton to level the match. 

Once again in the third set, Shapovalov found himself in an early hole. This time, it was largely self-inflicted as he played a sloppy game at 1-1, double-faulting to go down 15-40 and then missing a forehand to go down the early break. 

While Shapovalov managed to serve his way out of a 15-40 jam at 1-3, he never came close to reclaiming the break and Shelton served his way to a two-sets-to-one lead. 

Finally in the fourth set, the Canadian started to make inroads on Shelton’s serve. He had break points in the second and eighth games, although he could not convert. When the American served to stay in the set at 4-5, a big forehand from Shapovalov drew an error for 15-40, double set point. Shelton netted a forehand on the first to send the match to a deciding set. 

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What momentum Shapovalov had going into the fifth evaporated quickly. After the Canadian held serve to open the decider, it was all Shelton, who reeled off five games in a row. Both times he was broken, Shapovalov committed errors to give away the game. 

There are no Canadians left in singles at the All England Club following Shapovalov’s defeat. Gabriela Dabrowski and Leylah Annie Fernandez are still competing in doubles