Tennis

Shapovalov rebounds from early Rogers Cup exit to beat Joao Sousa in Cincinnati

Canada's Denis Shapovalov roared back from a bad first set to post a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over lucky loser Joao Sousa of Portugal in first-round action Tuesday at the Western & Southern Masters 1000 tennis tournament in Cincinnati.

Canadian shakes off poor 1st set, will face Lucas Pouille of France in Round 2

Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., overcame a poor first set Tuesday to defeat lucky loser Joao Sousa of Portugal in first-round action at the Western & Southern Masters 1000 tennis tournament in Cincinnati. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Canada's Denis Shapovalov roared back from a bad first set to post a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over lucky loser Joao Sousa of Portugal in first-round action Tuesday at the Western & Southern Masters 1000 tennis tournament in Cincinnati.

Next up for Shapovalov is Frenchman Lucas Pouille, who advanced with a 6-3, 7-6 (6) win over American qualifier Denis Kudla.

Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ont., won on his first match point when his forehand was sent into the net by Sousa.

It was the second tournament in a row that Shapovalov, ranked 34th in the world, won his first match. He had five-match losing streak -- part of a  2-9 run dating back to March -- heading into last week's Rogers Cup men's tournament in Montreal.

He beat France's Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the first round in Montreal to end his run of futility before falling to world No. 4 Dominic Thiem.

WATCH | Shapovalov rallies to win:

Canadian Denis Shapovalov defeated Joao Sousa 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in their first round match. 1:10
It looked like Shapovalov's struggles might continue against world No. 43 Sousa, who beat the Canadian in the only other meeting between the players -- a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win in Auckland, New Zealand, back in January.

Sousa broke Shapovalov in the match's first game and looked to be in complete control as he cruised to a 6-2 first-set win.

Shapovalov got back into the match with a confident second set. He won the first game with an ace, then broke Sousa to go up 2-0. He went up 3-0 after a nervy hold that went to deuce twice, and then held the rest of the way to even the match at one set apiece.

The Canadian continued to apply pressure, breaking Sousa to open the third set. He broke Sousa again to go up 4-1, then won while serving for the match in the eighth game of the set.

Shapovalov hit 28 winners compared to seven for Sousa, who advanced into the main draw in Cincinnati after 10th seed Fabio Fognini of Italy withdrew. However, Shapovalov also had 31 unforced errors -- many of them coming in his error-prone opening set, to just 19 for Sousa.

The inconsistency could also be seen in Shapovalov's serve. He had five aces, but also hit into six double-faults.

Djokovic, Federer move on

Top-seeded Novak Djokovic sailed through his opening match at the Western & Southern Open in just 79 minutes on Tuesday, dispatching Sam Querrey 7-5, 6-1 near Cincinnati.

The Serbian recorded 15 aces and won 83.8 percent of his first-serve points while cruising into the third round. Djokovic, the defending champion, will face either Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta or 13th-seeded American John Isner, who were scheduled to play later Tuesday on the hardcourt in Mason, Ohio.

Roger Federer, the No. 3 seed, routed Argentina's Juan Ignacio Londero 6-3, 6-4 in 62 minutes. The 20-time Grand Slam champion served nine aces without a double fault and saved the only break point he faced.

Stan Wawrinka advanced to the second round following a grueling 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (4) win over Grigor Dimitrov on Tuesday.

Wawrinka, who has won the Australian, French and U.S. Opens, next faces qualifier Andrey Rublev, who advanced with a 6-7 (4), 6 4, 6-2 victory over 15th-seeded Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, who won Cincinnati in 2013, reached the second round after 12th-seeded Belinda Bencic retired with a left foot injury when trailing 6-4, 1-0.

Tournament officials announced Tuesday that fourth-seeded Dominic Thiem had withdrawn due to illness.

Serena Williams out with back injury

On a day when back problems forced the Serena Williams to withdraw before her second-round match, sister Venus Williams reached the third round of the Western & Southern Open with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (4) upset of defending champion Kiki Bertens. Her key? Not going for it.

"I just tried not to go too big, because I can go so big and I have a lot of power and it's not always easy to control it," the 39-year-old Williams said. "So I'm trying to play smart instead of going hog wild, which is extremely easy to do."

Hours before her match was scheduled to begin, Serena Williams withdrew, citing the same back injury that forced her to retire from the Rogers Cup final on Sunday in Toronto. The injury raises questions about Serena's fitness ahead of the U.S. Open, which starts Aug. 26.

"I came to Mason on Sunday and have tried everything to be ready to play tonight, and was still hopeful after my practice this morning, but unfortunately, my back is still not right, and I know I should not take to the court," Serena, winner of 23 Grand Slam titles and a two-time champion at Cincinnati, said in a statement.

 

With files from The Associated Press

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