Denis Shapovalov has lost to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon semi-final, ending what has been the Canadian’s best run at a Grand Slam.
Djokovic won 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 7-5 before a capacity crowd of nearly 15,000 on Centre Court on Friday.
The win continues Djokovic’s quest for a sixth Wimbledon title and a chance to sweep all four Grand Slams this year. The Serb also remains on track to win his 20th Slam, which would tie him with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most singles titles.
Djokovic will face world No. 9 Matteo Berrettini on Sunday. The Italian beat Hubert Hurkacz of Poland 6-3 6-0 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 earlier on Friday.
Despite the loss, Shapovalov has been playing some of the best tennis of his career at Wimbledon and he reasserted himself as a rising star among the next generation of players.
This is the farthest he has ever gone at a Grand Slam and before the match he spoke about his growing confidence in facing Djokovic, someone he has yet to beat.
“I’m going to fight for every point and believe in myself,” he said Wednesday. “I do believe that I have the game to beat him and the game to win that match.”
Shapovalov, 22, has been a rising star in tennis since 2016 when he won the junior title at Wimbledon. The following year his ATP ranking soared from No. 250 to 50 after long runs at the Rogers Cup and the U.S. Open.
But he has often failed to live up to his potential and he has struggled against the best players. While he has one of the best serves in tennis, he has been undone by reckless errors and a tendency to lose focus during big matches. Prior to Friday, his record against top 10 opponents was 8-20 and he’d won just one ATP title, a hard court tournament in Stockholm in 2019.
This year’s Wimbledon has been a revelation. He swept Britain’s Andy Murray and world No. 10 Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets and his only challenge came in the first round when he defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber in five sets. In the quarter-final against Karen Khachanov, Shapovalov showed rare composure and came back from being down 2-1 in sets.
He’s currently ranked world No. 12 but his play here will put him into the top ten when the rankings come out on Monday. He could go as high as No. 9, which would be his highest ever.
Shapovalov got some extra encouragement on Friday from a group of elementary school children from St. Matthew Academy in south London. He arranged tickets for 12 students to sit at Centre Court on Friday and for most it was the first tennis match they’d seen.
The children started following the Canadian this spring when their teacher, former tennis coach Adam Kohlbeck, began sharing his love of the game. Mr. Kohlbeck has known Mr. Shapovalov for nearly 10 years and a few weeks ago he showed his class some videos of him playing.
“I just wanted to try and get a new generation but also a new demographic interested in the game,” Mr. Kohlbeck said Thursday. “My relationship with Denis was the way into that for the kids.” He added St. Matthew has a “high proportion of Black Caribbean and Black African children and that demographic is massively underrepresented in British tennis.”
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