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Denis Shapovalov hits a shot against Viktor Troicki at the St. Petersburg Open on Oct. 14, 2020.

ANTON VAGANOV/Reuters

Denis Shapovalov was very pleased with his effort in his return to hard-court play.

The second-seeded Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ont., beat Serbia’s Viktor Troicki 6-2, 6-3 in a first-round match at the St. Petersburg Open on Wednesday.

“I’ve already played against him a couple of times, and he is a very difficult opponent. In fact, it was a very tough match.” Shapovalov said.

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“I just think I played great today. I couldn’t have played better.”

Shapovalov never faced a break point as he made the transition to a hard court after a second-round exit at the French Open on clay in Paris.

The Canadian, ranked 12th in the world, won 86 per cent of points when he got his first serve in against the 197th-ranked Troicki.

Shapovalov will face world No. 141 Ilya Ivashka of Belarus in the second round of the ATP Tour 500 event on Thursday.

“I think it will be a very difficult match, especially on these slow courts,” Shapovalov said. “Ilya hits a lot of balls and forces the opponent to play more balls, so I think I will need to be prepared for a long rally but try to win points from the very first shot.”

Sixth-seeded Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., also has advanced to the second round and will clash with Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan on Thursday.

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