Denis Shapovalov booked a semi-final date with defending Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic on Friday after a five sets win on Court 1.
Shapovalov, the 10th seed from Canada, came through a three-and-a-half hour tussle with Russia’s Karen Khachanov, winning 6-4 3-6 5-7 6-1 6-4.
He thumped 59 winners past the 24th seed and served with great maturity in the final set, dropping just four points on his service games.
His playing style is one of the most free-flowing on the men’s tour. He hits a glorious left-handed one-handed backhand and he slapped 24 winners off the forehand win past his opponent.
Not afraid of a rush to the net, Shapovalov also won 29 of his 40 approaches as his all-court game proved too strong for Khachanov in the end.
His reward is the toughest task in tennis: a meeting with world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
Djokovic – who is targeting a Golden Slam this year – had earlier defeated Marton Fucsovics in straight sets and Shapovalov sees no reason why he can’t defeat the reigning Frenchand Australian Open champion.
‘Obviously, he’s the best player in the world,’ said Shapovalov, who fell to the floor after his triumph, in his on-court interview. ‘But I think anything is possible. When you look at the scoreboard first thing on Friday it’s going to be 0-0. So that’s it.
‘Nothing else matters. It’s a tennis match and it could go either way.
‘I have full belief in me and my team. We’re all putting in the work. Anything is possible.’
It was a tough battle in the quarter-final, with Shapovalov recovering from two sets to one down before finally getting over the line.
‘I mean, well first of all I have to thank you guys,’ Shapovalov added.
‘There were so many times in the match I thought that Karen was just playing too good, he’s going to roll away with the match but you guys kept me going, kept me fighting so thank you so much.
‘It was definitely super, super tough. Especially in the fifth set having 0-40 and not converting there and then having the craziest game of my life I think. Being able to win that was massive.
‘I was in a similar position in US Open last year in the quarter-finals and I felt like I started the fifth set a little bit slow so I told myself: “Literally play every single point as hard as you can today in the fifth set.”
‘Surely enough, luck was a little bit on my side but also a great week from Karen. We both really deserved it today.’
In an opening set that failed to truly catch fire, Khachanov had the first opportunites to break after a couple of double faults from his opponent but couldn’t convert four break points in the sixth game.
Shapovalov only needed one chance. A strong approach was followed by a composed volley into the open court and he held to love to take a 6-4 lead after 38 minutes.
Khachanov set up a fifth break point in the second game of the second set, latching onto a volley that landed mid-court and guiding it past the Canadian. For a fourth time in five break points, he failed to make the return – this time dumping a forehand into the bottom of the net.
The sixth, however, he duly converted. In a rare baseline exchange of more than three shots, Khachanov probed until a Shapovalov backhand veered wide.
A second break followed in the fourth game of the set after Shapovalov netted two consecutive volleys.
Although Shapovalov finally converted a fourth break point in the fifth game, Khachanov continued to hold and levelled the tie.
The standard of the match had risen substantially by now and it was Khachanov who clinched a tight third set to move in front for the first time.
Shapovalov, though, started finding his groove and raced through the fourth set 6-1 to force a decider.
The Canadian was the aggressor in the final set but couldn’t convert three break points from a strong position at 0-40 in the fifth game of the decider.
In the most dramatic game of the match, the ninth game of the final set, Shapovalov squandered three more break points before finally getting the breakthrough and he served out the match to 15.
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