Shapovalov Shines To End Murray’s Wimbledon Campaign
Denis Shapovalov held his nerve Friday evening to take down two-time former champion Andy Murray 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in a confident Centre Court showing to reach the second week at Wimbledon for the first time.
The Canadian has been one of the grass-swing standouts after reaching the quarter-finals in Stuttgart and his first semi-final on the surface at The Queen’s Club two weeks ago. He carried that momentum into his first ever match on Centre Court against the home favourite Murray.
Tenth seed Shapovalov fired 45 winners, including 13 aces, and saved eight of the nine break points he faced en route to victory. The Canadian will next face eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut as he seeks to reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam for the second time (also 2020 US Open).
"I think it's probably one of my best performances, even outside of Wimbledon. I think I definitely played really flawless today and just super solid," Shapovalov said. "It was an incredible experience. It was a dream of mine to grow up one day and play on the Centre Court at Wimbledon. I have seen so many legends play there, and it's always just been a huge goal of mine.
"To go out there today and to play a guy like Andy, who is also just such a legend, and to beat him today with the tennis I was playing, it was incredible for me."
Shapovalov used his lefty strokes and variety to expose Murray's movement, winning the longer rallies and earning 17 unforced errors from the Brit’s racquet. After going up a double-break in the first set to build up a 5-1 lead, Shapovalov was in brief danger as nerves seemed to creep in.
Murray broke him as he served for the set, and earned three break points that would have levelled the score at 5-5. But Shapovalov kept his cool, silencing the roaring Centre Court crowd as he claimed the first set 6-4 with a backhand winner.
The 10th seed raised his level as Murray’s took a dip, and he started strong in the second and third sets with double-break, 4-0 leads. Murray was not able to capitalise as a spate of backhand errors gave five break opportunities at 4-1 in the second set, and the Canadian tightened his grip on the match.
The players had to stop play after the second set as the Centre Court roof was closed due to darkness. In his match against Otte, Murray used the pause to refocus and rally back to win in five sets. But against Shapovalov, who won 100 per cent (13/13) of points behind his first serve, he wasn't able to find any openings. The Canadian charged through the third set, sealing the victory with his 13th ace.
“Honestly, I told him at the net that he’s my hero,” Shapovalov praised in an on-court interview. “Achievements aside, what he’s been able to do in the sport to come back with an injury like this, to be playing the tennis that he’s playing, moving the way he’s moving… I said after his second match it was truly like ‘vintage Andy’ and so much fun to see as a fan.
“The first set we played today was super, super intense, I had to really, really give it my all. After that, I was able to maintain the level as he dropped a little bit. But still, it’s incredible what he’s done to reach the third round like this. Obviously he’s just starting back up, so it’s going to be amazing to see what he can do.”
With the Centre Court crowd behind him, Murray pulled off dramatic victories this week against 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili and qualifier Oscar Otte. But he wasn’t able to repeat the feat against Shapovalov, in his first meeting with a player inside the Top 20 in FedEx ATP Rankings at Wimbledon since he defeated four Top 20 opponents to win the title here in 2016.
"This week has been really good in some ways, but it's been frustrating too. I played two long matches, and it's really significantly more than anything I have done in the last six months," Murray said.
"If my game is not quite spot-on physically, I'm not perfect, or physically really fresh, it's going to be hard for me. It's extremely frustrating, because I feel like I put a lot of work into getting to this point, and then obviously to lose like that is tough.
"Being as good as he is, I don't want to take anything away from his performance. He played really, really well."
Shapovalov improved to 20-13 on the season with the victory against Murray, who was playing his fourth tour-level tournament of the year (4-4).