It wasn’t going to be easy. Denis Shapovalov walked onto Centre Court knowing that. Everyone in the stands and in the broadcast knew that. But what those watching didn’t know, was that it wasn’t going to be easy for Novak Djokovic too.
“I don’t think that the scoreline says enough about the performance and about the match,” Djokovic said during his post-match on-court interview after winning.
Indeed. The final line may have been 7-6(3), 7-5, 7-5, but the play of Shapovalov was on another level. The Canadian pushed the World No. 1 in every set. He led 5-4 in the first set before being broken and losing in a tiebreak He led 5-4 in the second set too and the third set but could not punch it through.
A native of Richmond Hill, Ont., Shapovalov kept the Serbian on his toes the entire match. Using his big serve and an all-around game to keep the 19-time Grand Slam champion off-kilter, he kept Djokovic on the run. Shapovalov edged him in winners (40-32) but had more than double the unforced errors (36-15). Both players had strong service games as the Canadian won 79 percent of the points on his first serve and Djokovic won 81 percent. The big glaring stat was the 22-year-old converting on just 1-of-11 break point opportunities. He had him, he just couldn’t seal the deal.
“He was serving for the first set and he was probably the better player for most of the second set and had many chances,” said Djokovic. “I would like to give him a big round of applause for everything that he has done today and also just these few weeks. This has been his first semifinal of a grand slam and you could see that he was emotional and, you know, we’re going to see a lot of him in the future, definitely.”
Djokovic will now face Matteo Berrettini in the final as he goes for a record-tying 20th Grand Slam title. He is also halfway to a Grand Slam after titles at the Australian and French Opens and could even snag a Golden Slam with a gold medal in a few weeks.
Is this where Djokovic breaks him again? Shapovalov starts with a double fault and then sends a forehand wide. But the Canadian battles back and hits an overhead smash before using an inside-out forehand down the line to get it 30-all.
Unfortunately, his serve falters again and he double faults, setting up another break point for Djokovic. Shapovalov saves break as the Serbian hits a forehand error but gives it right back with a backhand wide. Djokovic breaks as Shapovalov sends the forehand long. He is pumped up as he will serve for the match.
Another hold. Another hold on four points.
Shapovalov leads 5-4
Shapovalov takes a 40-15 lead as his shot just skims the tape and falls over. Both players smile. He wins the game with an overhead smash.
Another easy hold by Djokovic.
Shapovalov leads 4-3
On the third point, Djokovic goes to track down a short ball (which he probably wouldn’t have gotten to anyway) and slips and falls. He is OK and wins the fourth point to get it 30-all with a lob that lands on the line.
Shapovalov faltering here as he double faults to give Djokovic a break point. But he stays in and closes out a long rally with a one-handed backhand that brings up the chalk. Another game goes to deuce. Ad out as Shapovalov’s forehand goes into the net but he brings it back to deuce with a forehand volley into the open court. He then wins the game as Djokovic again can’t return his serve.
And then Djokovic holds as Shapovalov sends the return into the net. His energy looked a little down in that game.
Shapovalov leads 3-2
Shapovalov serving and he goes up 30-0 with two winners before sending a forehand long and a forehand approach wide. But he holds, getting Djokovic to again hit the return off the court. The Canadian’s serve is on its game today as it continually makes Djokovic look human.
Djokovic holds easily.
Djokovic has turned it up here as he runs down a short ball and comes up with a big-time shot to go up 40-15 — and get his own double break chance. Shapovalov slams the ball in frustration but he comes back to get two forced errors out of Djokovic. So it’s deuce and the Canadian double faults for another break point opportunity for Djokovic. Shapovalov forces another bad return and then gets Djokovic stretching to get to Ad In. He goes wide for an ace — something he did against Khachanov effectively but hasn’t done much of Friday — and wins the game.
Shapovalov again with a double break chance. Djokovic with the service winner on a second serve (120 mph on a second serve, yikes) and then while he is at the net, Shapovalov sends the lob long. Shapovalov showing some frustration to his box as he had the lob replayed. On the next point he hits the overhead for yet another break point but Djokovic, with a yell, fires off the ace to get it back to deuce.
Djokovic reviews the serve out wide and it was an ace, so advantage to the Serbian. Then, off a rally, Djokovic’s forehand volley goes into the net and back to deuce (#3). Shapovalov’s return goes wide to give Djokovic the advantage and Shapovalov’s big forehand just misses.
Shapovalov leads 1-0
The Canadian settles down and wins the first game of the third set on five points — despite slipping on his second game point.
Shapovalov goes down 30-0 as his passing shot is wide and 40-0 as Djokovic executes the serve-and-volley to perfection. Djokovic with a service winner to take the set.
Djokovic leads 6-5
Djokovic is having a lot of trouble returning the serve of Shapovalov in this one and the Canadian goes up 30-15 as he pounces on bad returns. However, Djokovic would break the youngster as he double faults.
He cannot. Instead, it’s Djokovic who levels the set, needing just four points.
Shapovalov leads 5-4
After jumping out to 40-0, Djokovic gets two points before Shapovalov finally gets Djokovic to hit a bad backhand. Now the question is: Can the Canadian level the match?
An easy hold by Djokovic to tie things up.
Shapovalov leads 4-3
Shapovalov showing his touch as he wins two straight points with a volley winner and then a dropshot volley to go up 40-0. He wins the game with another serve that Djokovic has trouble returning.
After a long rally, Djokovic sends the forehand wide and Shapovalov again has a double break point chance. One break point saved as Shapovalov’s backhand goes wide and the second saved off a service winner. At deuce, on a long rally, Shapovalov sends the forehand into the net. On Ad In, the Canadian hits the passing shot down the line and waves his hands to the crowd to get involved. Djokovic again gets the advantage as he hits a desperation volley near his head before firing an ace wide for the game.
Shapovalov leads 3-2
After a big mishit, the telecast shows a spectator wearing a shirt that reads Shapovalov’s rally cry from just two days ago: “Anything is possible.” He then wins the next four points.
Djokovic serve-and-volleying but the volley goes long to make it 0-30. He then double faults and Shapovalov has three break points. Djokovic saves one as he hits behind Shapovalov, but it wasn’t a comfortable-looking shot. He saves another as he forces the youngster off the court and finishes with the easy volley. Now 30-40, and Shapovalov sends the forehand into the net and its deuce. Djokovic gets the Ad as he hits behind Shapovalov and then Shapovalov sends another shot into the net.
Shapovalov leads 2-1
Shapovalov goes up 30-0 thanks to a forehand winner that clipped the tape and a Djokovic forehand return that goes long. The Serbian then sends the backhand into the net to make it 40-0. Djokovic’s forehand approach goes long and things are on serve in the second set.
Down 30-0, Shapovalov with a deep return that leads to a mishit by Djokovic on the off-balance shot. But off a long baseline rally, he sends the backhand into the net to make it 40-15. With it 40-30, Shapovalov stops the point as he thinks the Djokovic shot was long and wants it reviewed. The replay shows it clipped the line and Shapovalov can’t believe it.
Shapovalov leads 1-0
Shapovalov serves to start the set. On the first point, Shapovalov showing great movement as he gets a stab volley and then nails the overhead. He wins the second point with a forehand volley winner and the third and fourth points off serves down the middle that Djokovic can’t get back. The Canadian with a big, “C’mon,” after the game.
First set: Djokovic wins 7-6(3)
Djokovic wins tiebreak 7-3
Djokovic served first.
Shapovalov tracks down the Djokovic dropshot and hits the winner. Shapovalov leads 1-0
Shapovalov tries his own drop shot and it doesn’t get across the net. Tied 1-1
Shapovalov mishits backhander wide. Djokovic leads 2-1
Another short ball, but this one Shapovalov hits it into the net. Djokovic leads 3-1
Djokovic double fault. Djokovic leads 3-2
Shapovalov hits the forehand into the net. Djokovic leads 4-2
Long rally and Shapovalov’s passing shot goes wide. Djokovic leads 5-2
Djokovic sends the backhand into the net. Djokovic leads 5-3
A little serve-and-volley by Djokovic. Djokovic leads 6-3
Double fault byShapovalov. Djokovic wins 7-3.
Shapovalov will now need to hold to force a tiebreak. He goes up 30-0 with a perfect backhand down the line and 40-0 with a swinging forehand volley off the weak return. He sends the set to a tiebreak as Djokovic’s return goes long.
Djokovic leads 6-5
Djokovic moving much better and finding his game holds serve.
Can the Ontario kid close out the set?
The game starts off with two unforced errors by Shapovalov. But then he gets Djokovic to hit the serve into the net to make it 15-30. After a review overturned an out call on a Shapovalov shot, he gets an ace on Djokovic’s backhand side to make it 30-all.
Making Djokovic move around the baseline, Shapovalov sets himself up for an easy winner but sails it long to give the World No. 1 a break point. He saves the break as Djokovic’s return sets up a swinging volley winner. Shapovalov then has two backhand errors to give Djokovic the game.
Shapovalov leads 5-4
Down 40-0, Shapovalov fights back to get to deuce with some pinpoint shotmaking. Djokovic closes out the game as Shapovalov has trouble returning serves.
Shapovalov leads 5-3
Djokovic having some trouble with the Shapovalov serve, setting up easy winners for the Canadian. He sets up two winners with poor returns before sending his game-point serve into the net.
Shapovalov leads 4-3
Big-time return by Shapovalov to go up 15-0 before Djokovic levels the game. He would go up 40-30 and close out the game with an ace down the T.
Shapovalov leads 4-2
Shapovalov making Djokovic look human. The Serbian with three straight forced errors and then Shapovalov ends the game with an ace.
Shapovalov leads 3-2
And then Djokovic follows with a hold on five points.
Shapovalov leads 3-1
What a hold by the Canadian as he wins four straight points.
Shapovalov leads 2-1
Shapovalov showing a range, as he rips the shot down the line setting up the approach shot winner to get double break points. Djokovic saves the first one as Shapovalov sends the backhand into the net. Then saves another as Shapovalov has trouble with the cross-court shot and sends the game to deuce. After Djokovic double faults, Shapovalov’s backhand after a long rally cannot be returned and he takes the lead. A big fist-pump from the 22-year-old.
Shapovalov coming into the net more lately levels the game at 15-all with a forehand volley winner. He then fires up an ace to get it 30-30 and wins the game as Djokovic returns his second serve into the net
Queen ‘disappointed’ with Meghan Markle, Harry over christening move
Queen Elizabeth is reportedly ‘disappointed’ over Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s move to christen Lilibet within the US and a former butler believes she’ll be heartbroken to miss such a special event.
Some former staffers even fear she’ll be utterly heartbroken if she is not able to participate in the grand event.
The Firm’s former royal butler Grant Harrold made this claim during his interview with Express.
There he speculated upon the possible plan of action Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may take regarding the christening, for the Queen, and claimed, “I am sure if this does not take place in the UK, the Queen will be disappointed to not attend the christening of her great-granddaughter.”
He also went on to add, “However, as with many families who have family overseas, sometimes it is not possible.”
“Maybe their christening will be recorded so the family in the UK can watch as well? Family is very important to the Queen and I am sure before too long she will meet her great-granddaughter.”
Oleksandr Usyk sends warning to Tyson Fury ahead of Anthony Joshua rematch
Oleksandr Usyk will put his newly won WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight belts on the line in his rematch with Anthony Joshua next year, but he’s already thinking about taking on Tyson Fury. The Ukrainian, 34, left British boxing fans stunned when he outclassed Joshua in London last month, scuppering hopes of a long awaited clash between Fury and ‘AJ’ in early 2022.
Joshua, 31, did promptly trigger his rematch clause however, before Fury came through his stunning trilogy bout with Deontay Wilder to retain his WBO and Ring Magazine titles.
Now Usyk, who after Evander Holyfied and David Haye is only the third fighter to win world titles at cruiserweight and heavyweight level, is plotting to again get past Joshua before targeting a lucrative unification fight with ‘The Gypsy King’.
Speaking to The Sun, he was asked if he could see a clash with Fury happening: “Yes, of course, I do regard this fight a huge one. I see him as a very good fighter, good athlete, he talks a lot, he has a tongue.
“He claims he’s the king of the kings, but it’s only he who thinks that. That’s what I can say about him.”
Usyk, who won Olympic Gold at heavyweight level in the London 2012 Olympics, now has a professional record of 19-0-0, but was second favourite to beat Joshua at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
He cites that factor as further reason as to why he can potentially overcome Fury.
“Before my Joshua fight everyone was saying that I haven’t got a single chance to win and beat Joshua,” he continued.
“I used to hear those types of things throughout my life, but I am capable of beating Fury because I’m not boasting that I can just punish and beat every boxer in the world, but I just go to the gym and do my job.”
Hughie Fury could fight Derek Chisora in huge domestic fight
Since beating Wilder in Las Vegas, Fury, 33, has declared himself the beat heavyweight of this generation, and Usyk appeared to take a dig at that claim by adding “I’m not trying to present myself as the king of the Universe.
“I do what I have to do. I concentrate and I’m focused and I get the result according to my effort.”
The Ukrainian did however, acknowledge that Fury’s unique boxing style made him successful and brought him victories, which he said was the “main thing.”
As for Fury’s next opponent, that remains unclear after Dillian Whyte was forced to postpone his bout with Otto Wallin because of a shoulder injury.
Fury’s next opponent is unclear
Anthony Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn takes dig at Tyson Fury
Whyte, 33, is the mandatory challenger to Fury’s WBO crown, and it was widely thought a win over Wallin on October 30 would pave the way for a world title shot for ‘The Body Snatcher’.
Whyte, who has long been embroiled in an online war of words with Fury, said this week: “I am devastated as I had a great camp, was in great shape, and had great sparring.
“I was looking forward to knocking Wallin out and would have done so in the first half of the fight.”
Tennis great’s message to Emma Raducanu amid coaching drama
British teenage tennis phenomenon Emma Raducanu has been urged to find some coaching stability after a tumultuous period in the wake of her historic US Open title.
Raducanu raised eyebrows after parting ways with coach Andrew Richardson after her US Open victory – in a move that surprised many tennis commentators.
Richardson coached the teenage star for two years at youth level and linked up with her again in July on a short-term deal for the duration of her time in the United States.
However, Raducanu said she was looking for a coach with more experience at the elite level of world tennis.
The 18-year-old parted ways with coach Nigel Sears after her breakthrough Wimbledon run to the last 16, where she eventually succumbed to breathing difficulties.
She then linked up with Richardson to claim an almost unthinkable maiden grand slam title at Flushing Meadows, before again deciding to move on to new pastures.
Raducanu’s partnership with Katie Boulter’s coach Jeremy Bates was always going to be a stop-gap situation for the Indian Wells tournament in which the Brit crashed out in her first match.
Pictured here, Emma Raducanu speaks to the media at the Indian Wells tournament.
Emma Raducanu’s search for a new coach has taken many in the tennis world by surprise. Pic: AAP
The World No.24 is now set to link up with Spaniard Esteban Carril – who previously worked with fellow Brit Johanna Konta, before being axed just weeks after she was named most improved player of 2016 and broke into the world’s top ten.
Raducanu in set to play in the Transylvania Open in her father’s native Romania, but Carril is not set to start his tenure with the Brit until after the tournament.
Carril will be Raducanu’s fourth different coach in four months and British tennis great Greg Rusedksi says the teenager needs to find some stability for her game to flourish.
“Esteban (Carril) did a great job with Jo Konta when she had her big breakthrough and got into the top 10 in the world,” he said.
“Hopefully this works out for Emma. But she needs consistency from a team point of view to push on with all the success she has had at the US Open.”
Former British tennis player Barry Cowan said despite enjoying success at Wimbledon and then the US Open, Raducanu simply cannot keep churning through the coaches.
Teen warned about chopping and changing
“She made the Last 16 of Wimbledon and the coach got fired. She won the US Open and the coach got fired,” Cowan said.
“You cannot keep running your career like that. It will eventually catch up with you.
“Certainly she needs to build up and strike a relationship with Esteban. I hope it is successful and lasts.
“I don’t care who you are, whether you are Emma Raducanu, Serena Williams or Novak Djokovic, if you are having coaches short-term, it’s going to come back to bite you.”