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By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, September 15, 2020

 
Denis Shapovalov

US Open quarterfinalists Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov picked up right where they left off delivering straight-sets wins in Rome.

Photo credit: Internazionali BNL d'Italia

The compressed calendar gave players little turnaround time between the US Open and Rome.

US Open quarterfinalists Denis Shapovalov and Andrey Rublev responded to the challenge getting their feet dirty on Rome’s red clay.

Nadal: Thiem Deserved Title


On a hot day, a sharp Shapovalov broke twice in each set sweeping fellow left-hander Guido Pella 6-2, 6-3 in his Rome opener.

The 21-year-old Shapovalov, the first Canadian male US Open quarterfinalist and first man to reach US Open quarterfinals in both singles and doubles since his coach Mikhail Youzhny in 2006, looked eager and excited to be back on red clay.

Shapovalov won 22 of 26 first-serve points and saved both break points he faced improving to 10-9 in 2020.

No. 12-seeded Shapovalov will play Spanish qualifier Pedro Martinez next. Martinez converted both of his break points defusing American Sam Querrey 6-3, 7-6(3) in 99 minutes.

The ninth-seeded Rublev registered his first career Rome with sweeping qualifier Facundo Bagnis 6-4, 6-4.

Rublev ripped seven aces and repelled six of eight break points in a 98-minute victory.

It was Rublev’s 20th win of 2020—he’s second to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who leads the Tour with 26 wins—and sends him into a second-round clash vs. Hubert Hurkacz.



German qualifier Dominik Koepfer edged Aussie US Open quarterfinalist Alex de Minaur 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) for his first Rome win.

Koepfer converted six of 13 break points in a two hour, 33-minute victory setting up a second-round encounter with ffith-seeded Gael Monfils. 

Italian wild card Salvatore Caruso saved a match point at 4-5 in the third set battling by American qualifier Tennys Sandgren 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4).

Sandgren seemed to be in solid shape at a set and 2-all. The lanky Caruso reeled off 12 consecutive points building a 5-2 lead then served out the second set to force a decider.

The 49th-ranked Sandgren, who knocked off Italians Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini en route to his second Australian Open quarterfinal in January, grew a bit more passive and a bit cranky in the final set after enduring a couple of bad bounces and seeing a divot open up behind the baseline.

Tennis Express

Serving at 4-5, Caruso saved a match point to hold. In the tiebreaker, the 87th-ranked Italian opened up a 4-2 lead and closed with a primal scream.

Caruso’s reward for his first Rome main-draw win is a second-round date with world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.


 

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