Perhaps the biggest difference coming into this match for British No. 1 Kyle Edmund is that outside of his opener, he was not the favourite. Against a slightly more vulnerable Novak Djokovic, there was always a chance, David Goffin allowed himself to be inexplicably distracted by shadows across the court, and all Edmund needed to do was execute his game plan perfectly.
This time, the pressure was on Edmund, although he started positively with an immediate break and consolidation. However, a delayed reaction to a ball, waiting for a call that never came, and ultimately striking his own shot out set up a break back, that seemed to stick in his mind a little,
Shapovalov’s languid style belies a powerful and accomplished game, and he made his one break and set point opportunity count, taking the lead.
After all the drama of watching the Rafael Nadal’s winning streak come to an end at the hands of Dominic Thiem, we were watching perhaps the true next generation of players to move up and already there is an intriguing rivalry developing between the pair.
The second set was extremely competitive, and the first chances of a break fell to the Brit, who was unable to convert two chances in front of him, but held on despite to force a tie-break, taking the early advantage before taking it on his second set point.
Edmund had to hold his nerve after an incident late in the second set.
Oh my god. At 5-5 30-30, a woman screams ‘come on Denis’ in the middle of Shapo’s service motion, Kyle stopped. Ace.
Edmund said, after the match: “Obviously someone called out right when he was serving so I stopped and yeah because he served and it went past me it was the point so I stopped and then I said: ‘do we not take a let on that’, the umpire said: ‘It’s not my decision.’
“So then I said to Denis ‘do you want to take a let on that? and he said ‘No I’m going with the umpire.’
“He obviously wanted the point quite badly so, yeah.”
After the match, Shapovalov explained his position:
“As I was tossing the ball, a lady yelled out. Then I served. I’m not sure if Kyle was intending to play it or not. It was too fast. But obviously I felt really bad. I felt awful about it.
“But I wasn’t really sure what to do in the situation. At the end of the day I think it’s the ref’s call. The ref has to make that decision. That’s why he’s there, why he’s on the court. It’s not up to me. It’s not up to Kyle. That’s why we have refs in the first place.”
In a high quality third set, it was just one lapse, and a single break point that Shapovalov capitalised on to take the advantage, and finished off with a serve to love to advance into another Masters semi-final with a serve out to love.
Shapovalov continued: “To be honest, I’m happy again to be in the semifinals. I never knew when my next time being in a semis would be. I’m more than thrilled to be there. Hopefully I can go even further.
“But it’s been an unbelievable week for me, especially on this surface. So it’s just a massive confidence booster. Yeah, hopefully I can take it forward.”
While it was a disappointing end for Edmund after two landmark wins against Djokovic and Goffin, and backs up his performance at the Australian Open. With this run, he will crack the Top 20 for the first time in his career, and backs up his ascendency to the British No.1 spot in March as Andy Murray slipped back down the rankings while on an injury break.
Speaking to us after the match, Edmund said: “It’s nice to get to a ranking like that. After Australia, I wanted to get to the top-20, it was definitely a realistic goal. It’s just one of them when it’s nice to see it but you just continue pushing. It’s not even the middle of the season so there’s still so much tennis to be played, stuff to work on so it’s nice that I’m getting some positive results but there’s always room for improvement that’s the nature of this game.
“I want to keep pushing basically, this summer is always a busy period so it’s nice to have some momentum with some good results. I’ll keep going basically, I’m looking forward to the British summer as well. It will be nice to be back home.”
Edmund will next play in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome which takes place between 13-20 May.
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