Photo : Martin Sidorjak
While the rain is wreaking havoc with the schedule at Wimbledon, it has yet to slow down the Canadians’ progress.
Denis Shapovalov overcame multiple delays to reach the second round at the All-England Club on Tuesday with a five-set victory a day after the match was originally scheduled.
The match was supposed to be played on Monday, but had been pushed over to Tuesday due to rain. It was then suspended in the fourth set due to more precipitation.
The 10th seed at Wimbledon this year came out firing in his first-round clash with German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber, but struggled with consistency throughout the match. Eventually, he found a rhythm in the fifth set to claim a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory.
The attacking style of Shapovalov was on full display in this match, as he struck 57 winners and unforced errors. His serve was inconsistent as he had 16 double faults to just 14 aces, although he won 78 percent of his first serve points.
Shapovavlov’s game plan was on display right from the start, as the Canadian stepped up to the baseline and attacked every ball, including the Kohlschreiber serve.
He had two chances to break in the German’s first service game, but was unable to convert. Shapovalov had to wait a while before he got another shot.
As Kohlschreiber served to stay in the set at 4-5, the Canadian pounced. Twice Shapovalov set up break points with forehand winners and was gifted with a forehand wide from the German on the second to wrap up the opening set.
The 10th seed had barely faced any pressure on his own serve in the first set, but got himself into trouble early in the second, throwing in an error-filled game to surrender a break out of the blue for 2-1.
After dominating the opening set, Shapovalov’s game seemed to have deserted him. He had to save another break point in his next service game, but even though he survived, he could not string together enough good shots to reclaim the break. That one early break was enough for Kohlschreiber to level the match at a set apiece.
Shapovalov started to turn the tide back in his favour early in the third, reaching break point in the second game of the set, although he was unable to convert.
A few games later, he got another look at a break and this time ripped a huge return to set up a forehand winner to take a 4-2 lead.
Holding on to the break proved challenging, as Shapovalov faced six break points over his next two service games, including while serving for the set at 5-3. But the Canadian brought some of his best shot-making, including a perfect drop volley, a huge backhand winner, and a 130 MPH ace, to save those break points, ultimately holding on to take the third set.
The early stages of the fourth set were all about missed break chances. After failing to convert a pair of break points in Kohlschreiber’s first service game, Shapovalov went down love-40, but used some beautiful ball placement to escape.
After the 10th seed again failed to convert a break point midway through the set, he again went down love-40 on his own delivery, but this time double faulted to hand the break to Kohlschreiber.
The German attempted to serve out the set at 5-3, but Shapovalov stepped up and managed to break back, converting by curling a backhand slice down the line of an excellent passing shot winner.
Just before the Canadian served at 5-6, the pair were forced to head back to the locker rooms due to rain.
When they came out of the delay hours later, Shapovalov was promptly broken to love to send the match to a fifth set.
In the decider, the Canadian took advantage of a sloppy game from Kohlschreiber at 3-all, as the German committed back-to-back unforced errors to hand Shapovalov the break.
That one break was enough as Shapovalov held his nerve, and his serve, clinching victory with a forehand winner nearly seven hours after they initially stepped onto the court.
In the end, both men won 154 points. The key difference was break point conversion. Shapovalov broke four times on 12 opportunities while saving 10 of 13 on his own serve.
Félix Auger-Aliassime, Bianca Andreescu, and Leylah Fernandez were all supposed to get their tournaments underway on Tuesday, but have been pushed back to Wednesday due to the rain delays.
Shapovalov will meet either Pierre-Hugues Herbert or Pablo Andujar in the second round. The Canadian has never advanced past the second round of Wimbledon in his pro career.