04:39 PM GMT March 23, 2019
#NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov overcame a tough test on Saturday at the Miami Open presented by Itau, defeating Delray Beach finalist Daniel Evans 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 to reach the third round.
"I’m really happy with the match. I knew going in that Dan’s a really tough player. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy because I’d lost to him twice before," Shapovalov said. "I’m happy to get the win. For me it was a really tough [opening] round.”
The 20th seed did well to battle past the tricky Brit. Shapovalov made unforced forehand errors on two break chances early in the third set, but he regrouped in the same game to break on his fourth opportunity, and then never looked back. The teen won 70 per cent of his service points to triumph after one hour and 59 minutes.
Shapovalov did especially well to try to impose his own game on Evans, who throws many players off their top level with his variety, including a sharp backhand slice. In the third set, the Canadian was unafraid of the net, hitting an overhead to earn his first match point, which he capitalised on.
"I thought if I could find my game, if I could start hitting, then I could turn the match around,' Shapovalov said. "Early in the match I had a couple of chances, didn’t convert, and then he caught fire a little bit. So I tried to turn it around early in the second and I did a great job of it."
Shapovalov is tied for his career-high ATP Ranking of No. 23, and he is making a push to crack the Top 20 for the first time. The 19-year-old has shown good form of late, advancing to the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open. He has previously enjoyed success at ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, reaching the semi-finals in Canada in 2017 and the last four in Madrid last season.
On his Miami debut last year, Shapovalov advanced to the fourth round. He’ll look to do the same this time when he faces Andrey Rublev on Monday. The Russian qualifier secured his first Top 20 win in more than a year, defeating World No. 11 Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-4 earlier on Saturday.
Rublev is finding his form in his return from a persistent back injury. He is coming off a final run at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Indian Wells (l. to Edmund) and has carried the momentum to Miami. In his fifth tournament appearance, he is into the third round for the first time.
In other action, it was a game of inches on Court Butch Buchholz, as qualifier Reilly Opelka edged Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in two hours and 19 minutes. With Opelka standing at 6'11" and Schwartzman at 5'7", it was the biggest height discrepancy in ATP Tour history.
The American, who recently surged to a career-high World No. 56 behind a first tour-level crown at the New York Open, is enjoying his best result in an ATP Masters 1000 event. After defeating Henri Laaksonen and Marcel Granollers in qualifying, he has ousted Jan-Lennard Struff and Schwartzman to reach the third round.
There, Opelka will face 13th seed Daniil Medvedev. It will be their second FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter, following the Russian's victory in a deciding tie-break at the Citi Open in 2017. Earlier on Saturday, Medvedev routed Adrian Mannarino 6-2, 6-1 in 70 minutes.