Canada's Denis Shapovalov makes a backhand return to compatriot Felix Auger-Aliassime during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Andy Brownbill

Canadian Denis Shapovalov crushes Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff in Dubai

Canadian Denis Shapovalov crushes Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff in Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Canada’s Denis Shapovalov beat Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 6-1, 6-3 in the second round of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

The third-seeded Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ont., won 85 per cent of his first-serve points and saved both break points he faced.

Struff, ranked 39th in the world, has been a nemesis for Shapovalov in recent years. The German had won their previous four matches and leads the lifetime series 4-2.

“I’ve had difficulties with him in the past. For sure, I knew it was going to be a tough match for me,” Shapovalov said. “I feel like any match is a new match. It’s always starting from 0-0. The past really doesn’t mean much.”

Shapovalov, who got a first-round bye, will face No. 13 seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland in the third round. Hurkacz beat Richard Gasquet of France 6-3, 6-4 on Tuesday at the ATP Tour 500 event.

Hurkacz has a 2-0 career record against Shapovalov.

“He’s definitely a very difficult player,” Shapovalov said. “We know each other from way, way back. I think we played junior Australian Open first round the first time. We kind of saw each other going up through the rankings.”

The Canadian said he plans to limit his schedule this year because of COVID-19 rules.

“I definitely don’t want to play too much this year if it’s going to be a bubble,” he said. “It is extremely difficult mentally to be locked up like this. Of course, it’s amazing to play.

“But as the weeks go on, you kind of lose that passion for tennis and a lot of players are struggling with that. We’re trying to take that approach of kind of to minimize that as much as possible and just enjoying every match that I do go out and play this year.”

Meanwhile, South African qualifier Lloyd Harris stunned U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-4 in the Austrian’s opening match at the tournament on Tuesday.

Harris hit nine aces and didn’t allow fourth-ranked Thiem a single break point as he booked a third-round match against Filip Krajinovic.

The 81st-ranked Harris needed just 72 minutes to dispatch the top-seeded Thiem.

“Obviously, I’m super happy with that win, by far the highest-ranked player I’ve beaten. I look up to Domi a lot, so for me its a special feeling and I’m really happy,” Harris said in an on-court interview.

“I was serving really well. I played some of the important points very well, so I’m very proud of that.”

In contrast to Thiem, second-seeded Andrey Rublev swept past qualifier Emil Ruusuvuori 6-4, 6-4 to move into the third round without facing a break point. In the next round, Rublev plays Taylor Fritz, who beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4).

It was the Russian’s first win on court since he took the Rotterdam title on March 7. Rublev reached the semifinals of last week’s Qatar Open without playing after back-to-back walkovers before losing to Roberto Bautista Agut.

Bautista Agut played just 28 minutes as his Australian opponent Matthew Ebden retired with the Spanish player leading 4-1 in the opening set. Bautista Agut is seeded fourth and will face Jannik Sinner in the round of 16.

— With files from The Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 16, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Tennis

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