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Sonego beats Shapovalov and gives the lead to Italy
Lorenzo Sonego battled for 3h15 on Thursday to upset Denis Shapovalov (7-6, 6-7, 6-4).
This second semi-final started with a blockbuster and it was Lorenzo Sonego who had the last word. Italy, despite missing Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner, keeps pulling the upsets! On Thursday, Shapovalov was their last victim as the Canadian (ranked 18th in the world) couldn’t pass the finish line ahead, losing in 3h15 against the 45th player of the ATP.
Sonego, who came back from a break down (0-2) in the first set, never backed down despite all the firepower of his opponent. The Italian, whose confidence clearly feeds his naturally bold game, looked as inspired as through his win against Frances Tiafoe in the quarter-finals.
He kept finding answers, serving great, blasting some huge inside-out forehands, and playing more freely than Shapovalov who had the pressure of the favourite. Finding himself way more on the defense than he usually likes to, Shapovalov battled as hard as possible and displayed some amazing shots that only he knows how to make.
But there was basically nothing between him and Lorenzo to really make a difference on such a quick surface today, except fitness and nerves. Shapovalov, who had won their only previous battle this year in Rome (7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3) on clay, could find a way out this time and he was the one blinking first in the last stretch. His back started to act up early in the third set, needing a very long medical timeout at 1-2.
Shapovalov’s back in distress
“Shapo” spent a lot of energy in the previous match, playing three sets in single and double against Germany, and it may have come back to haunt him at the end of this thriller. Pushed again on his serve at 4-5, he collapsed with three double-faults in the same game, including two to lose the match.
Italy, with what was supposed to be a B-Team, is now a win away from the final. “It was really tough to remain focused because I lost the tiebreak in the second set”, explained Sonego. “But I was really positive and, yeah, my captain helped me a lot to do my best to stay in the match, and really, I enjoy the match until the last moment. It was a very emotional moment for me. It was a really tight match and a big win, for sure. An amazing moment for me, and for my team.”
Canada, who is still chasing its first Davis Cup title is, like in the quarter-finals, back on the wall. But this time they surely will have to do without Shapovalov in the double.