ATP Finals hopeful Denis Shapovalov stunned

Canada's Denis Shapovalov was stunned in the opening round at the ATP 500 event in Vienna

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Denis Shapovalov was stunned in Vienna Opener

Eighth seed Denis Shapovalov was stunned 4-6, 5-7 by Austria’s Jurij Rodionov in the opening round of the ATP 500 event in Vienna, hampering his chance to qualify for the season-ending ATP Tour Finals.

Shapovalov, who broke into the top-10 of ATP rankings for the first time in September this year, is hoping to qualify for the elite eight-man Tour Finals for the first time.

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There are still two spots open for the season-ender while six players — Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev — have already qualified for the tournament, which will take place at London’s O2 Arena from November 15 to 22. Shapovalov is currently 12th in the ATP Race to London.

On Monday, Shapovalov served 10 double faults to make life difficult for himself against fellow 21-year-old Rodionov.

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Ranked 153 in the world currently, Austria’s Rodionov had entered the Vienna event as a wildcard. The 6’3 lefty had scored his first Tour win at the recently-concluded Roland Garros.

And at his home tournament, he seized almost all the chances that came his way.  Rodionov converted three of four break points, dropped only two points on his second serve in the second set and won 12 of 17 net points to mark his Vienna debut with a stunning win.

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Shapovalov’s high-risk game was off keel on the day, and the Canadian went out with a blaze of errors. While serving to stay in the match at 5-6 in the second set, he made two errors and two double faults for an early exit from the tournament.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Andrey Rublev, who is in pole position to qualify for London, sailed into the second round of the star-studded Vienna event.

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Rublev defeated Norbert Gombos 6-3, 6-3 for his 35th win this season. The Russian has already won four titles in 2020, including at his home event in St Petersburg.

The Vienna Open has attracted a lot of top players this Coronavirus-truncated season:  five of the top-10 players, including World No 1 Novak Djokovic, feature in the main draw. US Open champion and World No 3 Thiem is also a heavy favourite at his home tournament and will be defending the title.

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