Wimbledon: Safiullin earns huge upset against Shapovalov to make quarter-finals on his debut

Roman Safiullin stunned an injured Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 to reach the last eight. He’ll face Jannik Sinner next

Safiullin, Australian Open, 2023 Safiullin at Australian Open 2023 © icon SMI / Panoramic
Wimbledon •Round of 16 • completed
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Roman Safiullin became the first man to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals on his debut since Nick Kyrgios in 2014, and just the 12th man to do so in Wimbledon history, by beating Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 in a big upset out on Court 2.

Safiullin, ranked No. 92 in the world, recovered from losing the first set to the powerful Canadian to come through with relatively ease as Shapovalov faded physically in the second half of the match.

Safiullin impresses as injury takes its toll on Shapovalov

Shapovalov had been in good form in his previous three matches and started the match against Safiullin brightly.

Sadly for the 26th seed, a recurrence of a knee injury that has plagued him before severely hampered his chances against an opponent who was playing some excellent tennis of his own.

In the third set, Shapovalov – a former semi-finalist at the All England Club – required a medical time-out and painkillers to manage his knee issues.

Take nothing away from Safiullin, however. This was a mature and professional performance, with some highly-effective tennis getting him over the line in one of the biggest matches of his career.

Remarkably, Safiullin outperformed his more experienced opponent in every department statistically, taking five out of nine break points he generated on the Canadian’s serve.

The Russian had never previously been beyond the second round at a Grand Slam. Yet he now finds himself in the last eight of Wimbledon in his first main draw appearance at SW19.

He will play the winner of the match between Jannik Sinner and Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan in the quarter-final, in a match that will be by far the biggest of his career.

Much to dwell upon for Denis Shapovalov

For Shapovalov, his Wimbledon exit marks something of a crossroads in his still relatively young career.

Having exploded onto the scene with a run to the fourth round of the US Open in 2017, Shapovalov’s career has not taken off in the way many believed it would.

There have been significant successes since that breakthrough run six years ago – perhaps most notably that last four finish at Wimbledon in 2021.

But the next-level breakthrough has remained elusive for Shapovalov. Injuries have played a large part in this, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he took some time away from the sport to try and get on top of this most recent knee ailment.

A period of reflection may be in order after a difficult and disappointing twelve months that have seen the talented young Canadian’s progress stall to an alarming extent.

Few would bet against the Wimbledon Boy’s Junior champion from getting back to his best and making an impact at the top of the sport once again.

Sadly, though, this still feels some way off for Shapovalov.

London (Grand Slam), other last 16 results (All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, grass, GBP 16.077.000, most recent results first):

  • Grigor Dimitrov vs. Holger Rune
  • Carlos Alcaraz vs. Matteo Berrettini
  • Daniil Medvedev vs. Jiri Lehecka
  • Christopher Eubanks vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas
  • Hubert Hurkacz vs. Novak Djokovic
  • Jannik Sinner vs. Daniel Elahi Galan: sunday
  • Andrey Rublev vs. Alexander Bublik: sunday

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