Denis Shapovalov pumps his fist.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

A year after a tough semi-final loss in Dubai, Denis Shapovalov will have another chance to reach the final in the United Arab Emirates.

The Canadian reached the final four at the Dubai Tennis Championships with a straight-sets quarter-final win over Ricardas Berankis on Thursday.

For a spot in the final, he will meet qualifier Jiri Vesely, who upset Novak Djokovic earlier in the day, ending the Serb’s reign at No. 1 in the world in the process.

Berankis matched Shapovalov shot for shot early on, but when the pressure was at its highest, it was the Canadian who held his nerve, emerging with a 7-6(4), 6-3 victory.

Shapovalov was clutch when he needed to be, converting two of his three break points chances. He was also lights-out on serve, crushing 14 aces, winning 85 percent of his first serve points, and not allowing a single break point in the match.  

Neither server faced much resistance in the opening set as the returners were unable to generate a any break points. Shapovalov was two points from the set twice with love-30 leads at 5-4 and 6-5 on his opponent’s serve, but both times Berankis won the next four points in a row to escape.

However, the Lithuanian’s serve abandoned him at the most critical moment in the tiebreak, as he double-faulted to give Shapovalov two set points at 6-4. He then gave the set away with his third forehand error on his own serve in the breaker.

It took until the third game of the second set, the 15th game of the match, for a break point to appear. Shapovalov was able to take advantage as Berankis drove a forehand into the net, giving the Canadian the lead in the second.

With the way the sixth seed was serving, the one break looked likely to be enough. But for good measure, Shapovalov broke again at 5-3 to book his spot in the final four.

Last year, Shapovalov lost in a third-set tiebreak of his Dubai semi-final against Lloyd Harris. This will be his first meeting with Vesely.