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.

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.

Momentum shift

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.

Wawrinka seals tiebreaker with ace

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

In a match that lasted two hours 34 minutes, Dimitrov fought off two match points in the eighth game of the third set and forced a tiebreaker, which Wawrinka clinched with an ace.

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.



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