Top seed Shapovalov stunned at Sofia Open

Denis Shapovalov was stunned 6-2, 6-4 by World No 93 Radu Albot at the Sofia Open

Denis Shapovalov was stunned by World No 93 Radu Albot at the Sofia Open

Top seed Denis Shapovalov was stunned 6-2, 6-4 by World No 93 Radu Albot in the second round of the Sofia Open on Tuesday evening.

The defeat also ended Shapovalov’s chances of finishing inside the top-10 in ATP rankings. The Canadian had broken into the top-10 for the very first time in his career in September this year but has slipped to No 12 in the current rankings.

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The 21-year-old Shapovalov has played well since the tour resumed after a five-month hiatus due to the Coronavirus pandemic. He made the quarterfinals of the US Open and the semi-finals of the Rome Masters, which gave him a push up the rankings ladder.

But he hasn’t quite been able to keep up the momentum. The loss against Albot in Sofia was his third in a row: he had gone down to Gilles Simon in the second round in Cologne and was ousted in the opening round in Vienna by World No 153 Jurij Rodionov.

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With the Vienna loss as good as locking him out of the elite eight-man ATP Finals, Shapovalov had withdrawn from Paris Masters and will now finish his season outside of the top 10.

On Tuesday, in Vienna, Albot won 86 per cent of his first-serve points (31/36) and saved the two break points he faced.

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The Moldovan has struggled with an injury since last December and has lost first seven of his Tour-level matches this season.

“The beginning of the year was not good for me. I was not competing at all in the beginning of the year,” the 31-year-old Albot said.

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“When tournaments restarted in the US swing (in August) I was also not playing good there. I was not injured anymore, but I was just playing bad.”

“It took me a while to remind myself how the game is played, to understand how to play the game, how to compete, what my strength is, how the game works for me. This is not easy to execute all the time at the highest level, especially when you play with the top, top guys.”

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“I’m really happy that I was focussed for the whole match and I was just trying to think about my game and not about what he was doing. There are some days that everything goes your way and I think this was one of those days.”