Shapovalov Shines In Rome, Snaps Skid
#NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov arrived in Rome on a four-match losing streak, but he walked off the court Monday with a much-needed victory, defeating 2018 quarter-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 7-6(5) to reach the second round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
The 20-year-old has a history of success at ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, reaching his third semi-final at this level earlier this year in Miami. The World No. 22 has done well on clay at this level, too, advancing to the last four in Madrid in 2018.
Carreno Busta won the pair’s only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head match in three tie-breaks at the 2017 US Open. But on the Roman clay, Shapovalov controlled the action throughout with strong variety on his serve and aggressive play with his forehand. The Canadian did not face a break point in the match, earning 12 chances himself.
Although the Spaniard did well to save all eight break points he faced in the second set, Shapovalov did not panic. Instead, on his first match point, he scrambled to get a ball back in play and was rewarded when Carreno Busta shoveled a backhand wide to end the match after one hour and 35 minutes.
Shapovalov will next play World No. 1 and Mutua Madrid Open champion Novak Djokovic. The Serbian defeated the #NextGenATP star earlier this year at the Australian Open in four sets in the third round. Shapovalov was one of just two players to take a set against the eventual titlist in Melbourne (also Daniil Medvedev).
Also battling through was 11th seed Karen Khachanov, who overcame his opponent and the Italian crowd by beating home favourite Lorenzo Sonego 6-3, 6-7(1), 6-3 in two hours and 25 minutes. The Russian will next face Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, who moved past Italian Andreas Seppi in three sets on Sunday.
It is Khachanov's first win at the Foro Italico after losing on his debut last year in a final-set tie-break. Khachanov's best result of the year came at the BNP Paribas Open, where he reached the quarter-finals. The 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier won his maiden Masters 1000 title at last season's Rolex Paris Masters.
Another Italian, No. 16 seed Marco Cecchinato, fared better. Cecchinati, the Argentina Open champion (d. Schwartzman) in February, defeated Alex de Minaur of Australia 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 in two hours and 11 minutes. He will now meet Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber.