Canada’s Denis Shapovalov lost to Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics on Jan. 20, 2020 in the opening round of the Australian Open. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canada’s Shapovalov upset by Fucsovics in first round of Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia — Canada’s Denis Shapovalov lost a lengthy four-set match with Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics on Monday in the opening round of the Australian Open.

Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ont., entered the tournament as the 13th seed, his highest-ever seed at a Grand Slam event.

The 20-year-old Shapovalov struggled with his emotions throughout the three hour 14 minute match, losing to Fucsovics 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-1, 7-6 (3).

“I think I played really nervous today,” Shapovalov said. “Obviously, I was in really good shape, really good condition going into the tournament. I just played really tight today.”

No. 32 seed Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., just missed making Canada 1-1 on the opening day as rain suspended his match against Italian lucky loser Lorenzo Giustino with the Canadian leading 6-2, 6-1, 5-2.

The match will be completed Tuesday. Giustino, ranked 150th, got in after Radu Albot of Moldova dropped out because of injury.

Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil and Leylah Annie Fernandez of Laval, Que., the other three Canadians in singles draws, play first-round matches on Tuesday.

Shapovalov came into the tournament in good form, having knocked off two top-10 players and losing a third-set tiebreak to world No. 2 Novak Djokovic earlier this month at the ATP Cup event in Australia.

But Canada’s top men’s tennis player hasn’t enjoyed much success at Grand Slams recently. He has lost in the first round in three of the past four majors.

Shapovalov made 62 unforced errors, 27 more than his opponent.

Fucsovics also fought off six of seven break points.

“I feel like my game is there to beat any of the top guys, but of course there are so many great players out there and if I’m a little bit off, if I’m a little bit nervous anyone can beat me as well,” Shapovalov said. “So it’s just about learning, going forward, and obviously it’s a really disappointing one but there’s nothing to do now but learn from it.”

Shapovalov and Fucsovics, ranked 67th on the ATP Tour, had never squared off before Monday.

Fucsovics has played spoiler at the Australian Open before, stunning 13th seed Sam Querrey of the United States in 2018.

“Usually this is not a lucky number, but for me, (13 is) my favourite number,” said Fucsovics. “I played some of my best tennis today. Everything was working well.”

Fucsovics took an early 2-0 lead in the first set, using a deft touch on returns to work Shapovalov out of position.

Although Shapovalov won the next game, Fucsovics continued to press and took the opening set 6-3.

After looking rattled throughout the first set and in the first game of the second, Shapovalov started to find his game. He shouted in celebration as the Hungarian’s return fell short to tie the second set 1-1.

Shapovalov slammed his racket to the ground in frustration as Fucsovics took a 40-0 advantage with the second set tied 2-2. The outburst came after Shapovalov’s 24th unforced error.

An emotional Shapovalov yelled “come on!” to himself after powering a forehand past a running Fucsovics to tie the set up 3-3. The duo traded games twice to keep it even at 5-5.

Shapovalov again threw his racket to the ground when his return went too deep, giving Fucsovics the advantage. On the next serve, Fucsovics won the game.

Holding serve, Shapovalov powered back to force tiebreak.

After a lengthy rally, Fucsovics sailed a return wide, giving Shapovalov an 8-7 lead and an opportunity at set point. Fucsovics double faulted for only the second time in the match to give Shapovalov the set.

Still struggling with his emotions, Shapovalov quickly fell behind 5-1 in the third set. As Shapovalov continued to lose his composure, he double faulted to hand Fucsovics the set point.

Shapovalov berated the umpire and received a code violation after the third set on Margaret Court Arena.

After throwing his racket, Shapovalov was given the code violation that triggered his outburst.

“I didn’t break it. If I break it, 100 per cent code me,” Shapovalov yelled at umpire Renaud Lichtenstein. “You’re not doing your job. You’re just finding reasons to code me.”

Shapovalov jumped out to 2-0 and 3-1 leads in the fourth set but Fucsovics battled back to tie it 4-4 and take a 5-4 lead before Shapovalov evened it 5-5.

The two traded games again to force tiebreak.

Fucsovics sliced a backhand just out of Shapovalov’s reach to take a 4-2 lead in the tiebreak after the Canadian had played close to the net to try and force play.

Shapovalov went for the same strategy on the next point but it put him out of position for Fucsovics deep return to make it 5-2. On the next point, Shapovalov put the ball out for a 6-2 Fucsovics lead.

Shapovalov won a point back before Fucsovics put the match away to complete the upset.

“He was super solid the whole match, but obviously not all of me was there today,” Shapovalov said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2020.

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