Albot Stuns Shapovalov In Sofia
Radu Albot ended Denis Shapovalov's dream of finishing the season inside the Top 10 of the year-end FedEx ATP Rankings on Tuesday, eliminating the top seed 6-2, 6-4 in the second round of the Sofia Open.
"I'm really happy that I was focussed for the whole match and I was just trying to think about my game and not about what he was doing," Albot said. "There are some days that everything goes your way and I think this was one of those days."
The Moldovan star lost his first seven tour-level matches of the season as he struggled with an injury that he suffered last December. But he has come on strong in the past month. By upsetting Shapovalov, Albot advances to his second ATP Tour quarter-final of the year.
"The beginning of the year was not good for me. I was not competing at all in the beginning of the year," Albot said. "When tournaments restarted in the U.S. swing [in August] I was also not playing good there. I was not injured anymore, but I was just playing bad.
"It took me a while to remind myself how the game is played, to understand how to play the game, how to compete, what my strength is, how the game works for me. This is not easy to execute all the time at the highest level, especially when you play with the top, top guys."
Shapovalov is one of the world's best shotmakers, and a leaping backhand he crushed in the first set for a winner proved that. But Shapovalov struggled to find consistency on the Bulgarian hard court, making uncharacteristic errors.
Albot did well to avoid giving the Canadian many free points. He forced the World No. 12 to earn everything in the match, which he was unable to do often enough. Albot won 86 per cent of his first-serve points (31/36) and saved the two break points he faced. Next up for the World No. 93 will be fifth seed Adrian Mannarino or Belarusian Egor Gerasimov.
"Everybody knows how he plays, how aggressive he is," Albot said. "I'm really happy that I could handle the pace at the beginning of the match and I'm really happy that I was able to handle it for the rest."
Shapovalov was the top seed at an ATP Tour event for the first time, and he was trying to reach his sixth quarter-final of the season. On 21 September, he cracked the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time.