Shapovalov breaks skid with Wimbledon first round win

There’s nothing like going back to the site of previous success to find your confidence again.

Entering Wimbledon on a six-match losing streak, Denis Shapovalov was able to get back into the win column on Tuesday with a five-set comeback over Arthur Rinderknech.

The 2021 Wimbledon semi-finalist had not won a match since beating Rafael Nadal on clay in Rome in May and appeared to be on his way to a seventh straight loss as he trailed two sets to one and a break in the fourth, but was able to fight back to break the streak with a 6-1, 6-7(6), 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-1 victory.

It was a serving clinic from the Canadian, who won 85 per cent of his points on his first serve and hit 20 aces, saving five of six break points. His rally game was also strong, he hit 58 game winners and made 40 unforced errors, five fewer than his French opponent.

If six straight losses weighed heavily on Shapovalov’s mind when he arrived on Court 16, he didn’t show it. The Canadian rocketed out of the gate, breaking serve twice on his way to a 4-0 lead. He added a third break to wrap up the first set in just under half an hour.

Rinderknech restored the status quo to start the second set, forcing Shapovalov to save three break points in the opening game. The Canadian escaped the first threat on his serve of the day and the pair quickly settled into a serving rhythm, with neither having another chance to seize the initiative.

Self-inflicted injuries ended up costing Shapovalov the set, as he gave away a pair of double-faulted minibreaks in the second-set tiebreak, the second of which gave Rinderknech a set point, where the Canadian missed a forehand to tie in a set. -everybody.

The match opened up a bit in the third set, with both men having break chances, including Shapovalov saving set points on his own serve at 4-5 and 5-6, but neither broke through and another tie-break was needed.

Once again, double faults proved to be the Canadian’s undoing. He hit another one on his first service point of the tiebreak and that was enough for Rinderknech, who held on to that lead before Shapovalov blasted a forehand into the net on set point.

The Frenchman looked like he was going to get away when he broke Shapovalov for the first time of the match for a 2-1 lead in the fourth set, but the Canadian landed back-to-back forehands in the next game. to immediately return to service.

In the fourth set, Shapovalov was finally able to play decisive tennis at a key moment, breaking his opponent while serving to stay in the set at 4-5 to force a fifth set.

From 1-1 in the fifth, the Canadian took control. A clean forehand return gave Shapovalov the break early as he improved his game.

Seemingly unable to fail, the 2021 semi-finalist showed why he made it to the final four a year ago, winning the last five games in a row and 20 of the last 25 points to earn his first win since May.

In the second round, Shapovalov will face American Brandon Nakashima.

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