Shapovalov's Milestone Win, Beats Berdych In Rome

Canadian will play Haase in second round

Denis Shapovalov will become the Canadian No. 1 on Monday, when he officially passes Milos Raonic in the ATP Rankings, after a comeback first-round win over No. 15 seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Shapovalov was outplayed initially on Tuesday, but began to find his forehand range towards the end of the first set of a 1-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) victory over the vastly experienced Berdych, who was denied his 20th match win at the Foro Italico.

News of Shapovalov becoming the No. 1 Canadian surprised the 19-year-old, who said he had no idea the honour was on line during his match with Berdych.

“I'm a little bit in shock,” he said. “It's definitely happened extremely quickly. I've worked hard to try to achieve this a long time in my career. It's crazy that it's come so early... It's a reason to keep working, keep staying motivated and hopefully I can keep going.”

Shapovalov, who reached last week’s Mutua Madrid Open semi-finals, will next challenge Dutchman Robin Haase in the second round. The pair has never met before.

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Berdych, a semi-finalist in 2013 (l. to Nadal), moved into a 5-0 lead in their second FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, courtesy of forehand errors from Shapovalov in the second and fourth games. Shapovalov began to settle down, but was unable to convert two break point opportunities at 1-5, prior to Berdych closing out the 37-minute opener on his third set point.

Shapovalov sparked into life early in the second set, when, using his forehand, the Canadian broke for a 3-1 advantage after a Berdych forehand into the net. The World No. 29 celebrated clinching the set, on his third set point of a seven-minute game at 5-3, when Berdych hit a crosscourt backhand into the net.

I just couldn't find my footing the first set. The clay is so different here. I haven't had really a chance to practise alone on the court, so I couldn't really get my timing,” Shapovalov said. “I just kept fighting, kept competing... I did a good job of just staying positive.”

In a tense decider, Berdych recovered from 0/30 by winning four straight points at 4-4 for a confidence-boosting hold and came within two points of victory in the next game. But Shapovalov later regained control and won the first four points of the tie-break, only to see Berdych get back to 5/5.

Elsewhere on a rain-interrupted day three, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Damir Dzumhur defeated Fernando Verdasco of Spain 6-3, 6-1 in 64 minutes for a second-round clash against top seed and seven-time former champion Rafael Nadal.