Australian Open: Denis Shapovalov upsets Alexander Zverev in straight sets to advance to quarterfinals

Denis Shapovalov beat Zverev 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 to book a spot in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, where he will face Rafael Nadal.

Denis Shapovalov in a file photo. (Image: Twitter/@TennisCanada)

Arguably the biggest upset in the men’s singles draw of the Australian Open came on Sunday (January 23). Canada’s Denis Shapovalov upset Germany’s Alexander Zverev in the fourth round with a straight sets win.

Shapovalov beat Zverev 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 to book a spot in the quarterfinals of the season-opening Grand Slam. It was a surprise result, given Zverev is the third-seeded player in the tournament and Shapovalov was only seeded 14th.

But it isn’t just the seeding that had many see Zverev as a favourite. The German, after all, is the defending ATP Finals champion. He’s also reached the final of a Grand Slam before, having finished runner-up in the 2020 US Open.

He’s also won a career-high 19 titles compared to Shapovalov’s 1. But on the day, it was the Canadian who played far better – even though there were a few stumbles en route to his win.

The match started well enough for Shapovalov. He managed an early break and took the first set 6-3. When he got another early break in the second set, he seemed primed to take a 2-0 sets lead.

But one of Shapovalov’s biggest failings is inconsistency. And it was on full display here as he let Zverev back into the second set through a series of double faults.

Eventually Zverev was serving for the set at 5-3 but Shapovalov fought back hard. Another break resulted in him tying the set at 6-6 and a tie-break was forced.

The Canadian is no stranger to tie-breaks at this point – this was his fourth in this tournament alone. He won the tie-break 7-5 and took the second set too.

Shapovalov vs Nadal in Australian Open quarterfinals

By the time the third set came around, Zverev looked shell-shocked. He would need to mount a massive fightback to stand any chance of winning. Instead, the exact opposite happened.

Shapovalov rode on the wave of momentum and finished the match in three sets. Given he went the distance against world no. 54 Soonwoo Kwon in the second round, it was even more surprising that he so easily dispatched the third seeded player.

“It’s probably the one I least expected to finish in three,” said Shapovalov in his on-court interview. “I’m very happy with my performance, definitely happy with where my game is at.”

“I think off the ground I was playing really well, really feeling my shots off both wings. I played pretty smart today, it felt like things were going my way early on.

“Then I lost a little bit of momentum mid-way in the second set but fought well to come back and just kind of rolled with it after.”

Shapovalov will now face Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals, a match he is looking forward to getting on with.

“Always an honour to go up against a guy like Rafa,” said Shapovalov. “It’s always going to be a battle against him. It’s going to be a tough one and I’m definitely going to enjoy it.”

Sportslumo Desk

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