Denis Shapovalov wins five sets to prepare for the semi-final against Novak Djokovic

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Denis Shapovalov thanked the crowd for helping him advance to a semi-final against Novak Djokovic after five sets against the No.1 court on Wednesday, but so was the No.10 seed who was due. persuade himself that anything else.

Shapovalov gave himself the fiercest word of several after losing 2-1, after giving Karen Khachanov a crucial third set break point with a double fault, and that seemed to do the trick as persistence and the accuracy of the Canadian’s shot, and his one-handed backhand in particular, ultimately proved too much for his Russian opponent.

Khachanov’s towering figure, five inches taller than his 6-foot-6 opponent, gave this quarter-final – the first for both players – a David and Goliath feel, but Shapovalov had more to his game than the service winners and clubbing forehands, matching his opponent blow for blow for much of the three and a half hours. It was only in the final set, when Khachanov was visibly tired and increasingly drawn into extended rallies in his service matches, that Shapovalov was able to lead the way to the semi-finals.

A fifth set seemed unlikely after a first that resulted in Shapovalov’s third serve game. The Canadian dug into the first of what turned out to be several holes in the game, starting with two double faults and an inviting second serve to go 0-40. After bringing him down to two, Shapovalov then slipped into further trouble with another double fault, before a service winner and a brilliant forehand brought the momentum back in his direction. After repelling four break points there, Khachonov went on to give Shapovalov his first at 4-4, when a magnificent backhand return found the line to set up a volley winner at the net.

Shapovalov duly served him for love, but by the time he won his serve again he was already down 4-1 in the second after a pair of sloppy serve plays, the second of which he surrendered. by 40-0. His frustration was palpable as the set wore off, and when the gremlins also returned at the end of the third set, the No.25 seed was suddenly the favorite to advance.

After a full and frank exchange of views with himself, however, Shapovalov was a different beast in the fourth, winning it 6-1, and while the fifth was closer, Shapovalov’s serve was largely trouble-free while that Khachanov’s service games were increasingly a struggle.

Game ninth was decisive, as Khachanov opened with a nice forehand into the corner, then a service winner before dropping a double fault to let his opponent get back into the game.

Smelling the blood, Shapovalov was soon at breaking point and while Khachanov saved him and then saw Shapovalov put in a long forehand when he should have been a match winner, two errors in the fourth tie – one wide, a long – gave his opponent the vital break.

“Honestly, I felt he was outmatching me for most of the game,” Shapovalov said. “Obviously I had a few chances, but he was playing really, really well in them. Everything was going in his direction.

“In the fourth set I tried to intervene a bit and play a bit more aggressively. I felt he fell a bit physically, that he got a little tired there in the fourth set. I also intensified [and] I felt really good going into the fifth set.

Shapovalov has lost his previous six matches against Djokovic, although Friday’s semi-final is their first meeting on grass. “It’s nothing I really think too much about,” he said. “When you leave this game, it’s 0-0. That’s it. It’s a tennis match at the end of the day. The experience, this, that, that boils down to this moment and who plays best.

Seventh-seeded Matteo Berrettini did a shorter second quarter job on the No.1 court, although it took him four sets for his serve and forehand power to overwhelm Felix Auger-Aliassime, who wanted to become the second Canadian in the semifinals, 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3.

His big first serve was usually there when Berrettini needed it and the Queen’s Club winner will advance to Friday’s semi-final against Hubert Hurkacz as a big favorite to extend his 10-game winning streak on turf.

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