Shapovalov downs Tsitsipas to advance to second round at Australian Open

Shapovalov downs Tsitsipas to advance to second round at Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia — Canadian Denis Shapovalov advanced to the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 (5) victory over Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas on Monday.

It’s the first main-draw win at the Australian Open for the 18-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont.

Shapovalov won 57 per cent of his first service points and converted on 5-of-8 break points. He also had nine aces and 33 winners.

“I think I played extremely well today,” Shapovalov said in his post-match press conference. “I felt from the warmup that I was feeling the ball really clean and I was able to get the lead right from the start. I thought maybe he would start off tight and that’s what happened and I was able to maintain it really well.”

Shapovalov rocketed up the ATP standings last year, starting at No. 250 and reaching a career-best No. 49 over the summer.

He reached the semifinals of the Rogers Cup in Montreal in August, becoming the youngest semifinalist at a Masters 1,000 event, then followed that up by reaching the fourth round of the U.S. Open.

Shapovalov said that experience may have helped him against the 82nd-ranked Tsitsipas.

“Maybe I have a little more experience. I went deeper in the Grand Slam in New York and I was bringing back a couple old memories playing the few Grand Slams that I have,” he said. “But definitely I felt from the beginning maybe I’d be more comfortable and that’s what happened.”

Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil dropped a 6-2, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (5) decision to sixth-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia.

Three Canadians were scheduled to play their opening matches Tuesday.

Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., the No. 22 seed, was to meet Lukas Lacko of Slovakia. Peter Polansky of Thornhill, Ont., was scheduled to play Karen Khachanov of Russia and Eugenie Bouchard of Westmount, Que., was to play Oceane Dodin of France.

Shapovalov, currently ranked No. 50, will face 15th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round. Shapovalov beat the 32-year-old Tsonga in their only career matchup at the U.S. Open last summer.

“It would be an honour to play him again,” Shapovalov said.

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