Photo: ATP Tour
Denis Shapovalov is on a roll in Russia. The Canadian has booked his place in the semi-finals of the St Petersburg Open following an impressive 6-4, 7-5 victory over three-time Grand Slam Champion Stan Wawrinka. Shapovalov, seeded second, is yet to drop a set at the tournament.
Heading into this clash in Russia, the Canadian and Wawrinka had faced each other just twice before. Both matches were also on hard courts – one in Tokyo in 2018 and another in Rotterdam last year. Shapovalov was the victor in Japan in three sets, whilst Wawrinka came out on top in the Netherlands in straight sets.
In Friday’s match, Shapovalov rode his luck in the early exchanges as he fought off four break point opportunities for the Swiss before grasping the very first that came his way to take the lead. Staying steady on his own serve, the Canadian continued to make a variety of shots on his was to claiming the first set 6-4.
Wawrinka, a player with such quality and experience, seemingly came to life in the second set. A passing backhand winner in particular will remain fond in the memories of viewers. The players exchanged breaks of serve early in the set and then both showcased their incredible defence games.
Wawrinka was the first to buckle under the pressure as Shapovalov played an impressive series of points to setup 30:40 on the Swiss’ serve. Forcing his opponent wide with a powerful forehand, Shapovalov made his delight clear when Wawrinka couldn’t find the line on his return, handing the Canadian the chance to serve for the match.
Wawrinka did take a surprising 15:40 lead to put doubts in the back of the minds of Canadian tennis fans. But Shapovalov wouldn’t be denied as he powered his way to victory and set up a semi-finals clash with Russia’s Andrey Rublev, seeded third.