ATP Wimbledon: Denis Shapovalov edges Karen Khachanov for first Major semi-final

Before this year, a former junior champion Denis Shapovalov had only one victory at Wimbledon. The 22-year-old Canadian has found his A-game on grass in the last couple of weeks, playing in the semi-final at Queen’s and repeating that run at the All England Club for his career-best result. Denis is through to the first Major semi-final following a hard-fought 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 triumph over Karen Khachanov in three hours and 26 minutes. Denis fired 17 aces and ten double faults, pushing strong and finishing the encounter with 59 winners and 48 unforced errors. Despite giving his best, Karen couldn’t follow that pace, taking 25 points fewer than Denis and getting broken five times to propel the Canadian into the last four. Returners barely won a point in the opening five games, and a left-hander fended off four break chances with brave hitting to avoid a setback and level the score at 3-3. The Canadian secured the first break with a volley winner at the net at 4-4 and closed the set with a hold at love a few minutes later for 6-4.

Shifting into a higher gear, Karen won the opening four games of the second set to build the advantage and get into contention. Denis sprayed a backhand error in the second game to fall behind and sent the rival 4-0 ahead following a mistake at the net. Khachanov lost serve in the fifth game, but that wasn’t enough for Shapovalov to make a complete comeback, as Karen closed the set in the ninth game to level the overall score.

Denis Shapovalov is through to his first Major semi-final at Wimbledon at 22.

Both players served well in the third set’s opening seven games, and Khachanov fended off two break chances at 3-4 to stay in touch and gain momentum. Shapovalov wasted a game point at 5-5 and got broken when his forehand landed wide before Khachanov saved a break point with a forehand winner in the next one to clinch the set and move two sets to one in front.

With no room for errors, Denis fired his engines again in the fourth set, playing well on both serve and return to control the scoreboard and force a decider. The youngster broke at 15 thanks to an aggressive return in the fourth game and opened a 5-1 gap when Karen placed a backhand beyond the baseline. Shapovalov wrapped up the set with an ace in the seventh game and hoped for more of the same in the decider. The Canadian dropped only four points behind the initial shot, and the Russian couldn’t follow that pace despite giving his best. Karen came back from 40-0 down in the fifth game and had a game point at 4-4 that could have kept him alive. It wasn’t to be for him, though, as Denis grabbed the fourth break chance to move closer to the finish line. Serving for the victory at 5-4, the Canadian held nerves and brought the game home at 15 to celebrate the career-best result and a place in the semis. 

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