It was a tough start to the Grand Slam season for Denis Shapovalov on the opening day of Australian Open action, as the Canadian went down 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-1, 7-6(3) to Marton Fucsovics in the first round.
Shapovalov got off to a slow start as a lengthy opening game of the match ultimately swung the way of his Hungarian opponent. The game would set the tone for the early parts of the match, with the first two sets telling the tale of missed opportunities for Shapovalov and the right shots played at the right times for Fucsovics, a former World No. 31.
Although the Canadian No. 13 seed would find a better level in the second, his battles with his own consistency would become a point of frustration as he battled the level-headedness and baseline sturdiness of Fucsovics. In the tiebreak, he shot out to an early lead, generating two set points (one on his serve) but squandering each. A brilliant 27-shot rally at 7-7 would ultimately prove decisive, as a winded Fucsovics would double fault on Shapovalov’s third set point, handing him the set – and the momentum.
Or so one would think.
It was Fucsovics who regrouped quickly after the second set, breaking Shapovalov early and squandering the first chances that the Canadian had to break with pin-point play. The 20 year old’s frustration would come to a boil, quickly dropping serve a second time and, eventually, the set.
Although he would fly out to a lead in the fourth set – finally with some form of momentum – Shapovalov was unable to consolidate the break long enough to push proceedings to a fifth set. Fucsovics managed to summon clutch tennis in the tightest moments to bring the set to another tiebreak and brought more of the same once he got there. Several exchanges at the net fell the Hungarian’s way and, after three hours and 13 minutes, the match was over.
It’s not the result nor the level of play that Shapovalov would have expected. He finished the match with 38 winners to a shocking 62 unforced errors and was only able to break the Fucsovics serve once on seven opportunities.
(Feature photo: ATP Tour)