Shapovalov Wins Five-Set Epic; Reaches First Wimbledon SF
Denis Shapovalov’s brilliant Wimbledon run continued as the Canadian broke new ground on Wednesday, fighting back to defeat Karen Khachanov 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-1 6-4 to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final.
The 10th seed, who also reached the quarter-finals at the US Open (l. to Carreno Busta) last September, rallied from two-sets-to-one down, hitting 59 winners to advance in three hours and 28 minutes on No. 1 Court. Shapovalov will next face top seed Novak Djokovic after the Serbian overcame Marton Fucsovics.
“It was definitely super tough, especially in the fifth set, having 0/40 and not converting. Then having the craziest game of my life, being able to win that was massive,” Shapovalov said. “I was in a similar position at the US Open last year in the quarter-finals, and I thought I started the fifth set a little slow, so I told myself just play every single point as hard as you can, and a bit of luck was on my side.
“He [Djokovic] is the best player in the world, but when you look at the scoreboard, the first thing on Friday, it is going to be level. I have full belief in me and my team, anything is possible.”
Deep in the fifth set, the match turned on a seemingly innocuous event. Serving at 30/0, Khachanov surprisingly challenged a call of fault on his first serve, which was well wide of the T. The break in momentum perhaps contributed to a double fault, which allowed Shapovalov back into the game. The Canadian reeled off three straight points to get to 30/40 and he eventually claimed the decisive break.
The 22-year-old has enjoyed a strong grass-court season, reaching the semi-finals at the cinch Championships (l. to Norrie) in London in June.
Shapovlaov was joined by countryman Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarter-finals at SW19. If Auger-Aliassime can overcome seventh seed Matteo Berrettini on Wednesday, multiple Canadian men will reach the semi-finals at a Grand Slam for the first time in the Open Era.
After an even start, in which both looked to step into the court and find their range, Shapovalov fought back from 0/40 in the sixth game, saving four break points in total to hold. The Canadian played aggressively, hitting with great depth throughout the first set, and broke when he dispatched a volley after hitting a brilliant backhand return down the line. He sealed the set when he hammered a forehand into the corner that Khachanov was unable to return.
The momentum changed at the start of the second set though, with Khachanov striking the ball cleanly on his backhand to peg Shapovalov behind the baseline. He was able to dictate the points more effectively to level. In a high-quality third set, Shapovalov hit 16 winners and Khachanov struck 11, with both moving each other about. The Russian was strong around the net and found the break in the 11th game before closing out when Shapovalov mistimed a forehand.
Shapovalov continued to attack in the fourth set, racing 4-0 ahead as Khachanov struggled to cope with the intensity of the 22-year-old. Shapovalov clinched the set with one of the 17 aces he hit in the match. After Khachanov saved three break points at 2-2 in the decider, both were strong on serve until Shapovalov finally broke, taking his seventh break point of the set to move 5-4 ahead. He then held to advance.
“I think in the fourth set I should have stepped in a little more to try to defend more,” Khachanov said. “I think I gave him a chance to go for the shots. He broke me. Then the dynamics kind of changed. He stepped up. He started to be pumped again. He kind of turned around the situation to go into the fifth set.
“The difference is sometimes mental, sometimes [it] is the game. I think he went for it more. He went first for the shots. He served much better than me especially in those moments. I think during the whole match, the only thing that I was missing today was being a little bit better serving. I feel fit. Even though I played five sets [in the fourth round], I had one day off. I felt fresh.”Khachanov was also competing in his first quarter-final at Wimbledon on Wednesday. The Russian, who reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros (l. to Thiem) in 2019, has enjoyed runs to the semi-finals at the Great Ocean Road Open in Melbourne (l. to Sinner) and the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon (l. to Norrie) this year.