July 11, 2024

Open Court

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Shapovalov’s rough road in Paris (pics)

ROLAND GARROS – It began reasonably well for Denis Shapovalov at Roland Garros.

But it kind of went downhill from there.

He arrived in 2016, still just 16, and reached the semifinals of the boys’ singles; along the way to a loss to French kid Geoffrey Blancaneaux (who beat his friend and doubles partner Félix Auger-Aliassime in the final), he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas and Miomir Kecmanovic.

In the pros, he was 2-4 coming into this year’s event – meaning that by getting to the third round, he’s already matched his career total in wins.

Here’s what he’s done over the years (from the ATP Tour site).

Shapovalov’s RG body of work doesn’t stand out

Junior achievement

Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime came to Roland Garros in 2016 as a couple of hotshots, after winning the junior doubles at the US Open the previous year.

Shapovalov was the No. 5 seed, still 16, and Auger-Aliassime (still 15) was at No. 11. Stefanos Tsitsipas, who was to turn 18 a few months later and was in his final year of juniors, was the No. 1 seed. Alex de Minaur was No. 6, and Casper Ruud was No. 10.

Genaro Olivieri of Argentina, who also is into the third round in Paris out of the qualifying, was seeded No. 14. J.J. Wolf was unseeded, and was trounced by Auger-Aliassime in the first round. Alejandro Davidovich was a qualifier. Alexei Popyrin was unseeded. And Daniel Altmaier – who stunner Jannik Sinner Thursday night – was unseeded and lost to Tsitsipas in the first round.

All of which to say – and this is a total aside – it was a damn good crop.

Debut in the qualifying in 2019

Shapovalov’s first pro effort, as a 17-year-old aspirant ranked No. 193, ended in the first round of qualifying.

We were at that match, and it was … a roller coaster.

He began the match down 0-6, 0-2 to Marius Copil – only to come back and win the second set. But then, he went away fairly quickly in the third.

Here’s what it looked like.

The next year, after his big breakthrough at home in Montreal and a good run at the US Open, he came back as a seeded player. It was a lot. He lost in four sets to Maximilian Marterer, a German played ranked No. 70.

The next year, he ran into Jan-Lennard Struff (who absolutely owned him for awhile there) in the first round, and was serve-volleyed out of the tournament.

There was a fair bit of angst.

There was also that … outfit, which holds up reasonably well in retrospect but felt, at the time, as if there was somewhat too much going on.

After missing 2021, he returned last year ranked No. 15 in the world – and ran into some kid named Holger, who went all the way to the quarterfinals.

Whatever happened to him?

It may well end in the third round for Shapovalov this year. But it’s still a big step forward.

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