Wimbledon semi-finalist Shapovalov learned from bitter US Open defeat

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·3-min read
Canada's Denis Shapovalov reached his first Wimbledon semi-final and first Grand Slam one to boot winning a thriling five set encounter with Karen Khachanov
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Canada's Denis Shapovalov reached his first Wimbledon semi-final on Wednesday in an epic five-setter against Russia's Karen Khachanov and said he had learned from the bitter experience of losing at the same stage in last year's US Open.

The 22-year-old beat Khachanov 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 in an engrossing tussle that lasted 3hrs 26 mins.

The joy he felt contrasted to the despair at the end of a five-set loss to Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in the US Open quarter-finals after the Canadian had taken the fourth 6-0.

"I knew going into the fifth set I've got to leave everything I have on the court for every single point that I play," he said.

"I really felt like I was really in every single return, every single shot.

"That's the difference I made. Actually after the fourth set, I told myself, just using that experience from the US Open, this is what I want to change and really start the set off well."

Shapovalov will play defending champion Novak Djokovic in Friday's semi-final.

"Obviously he's the best player in the world but I think anything is possible," Shapovalov said.

"When you look at the scoreboard first thing it will be 0-0.

"Nothing else matters. It's a tennis match and it can go either way. I have full belief in myself and my team. Anything is possible."

The 22-year-old Shapovalov, who is into his first Grand Slam semi-final, is the first Canadian man to reach the last four at Wimbledon since Milos Raonic in 2016.

A wonderful encounter in which Shapovalov hit 59 winners saw the vibrant Canadian take the first set after breaking Khachanov at 4-4.

- 'Feel like a Brit' -

The 25-year-old Russian, like Shapovalov appearing in his first Wimbledon quarter-final, hit back by taking the next two sets.

Whilst he was content to largely stay at the back of the court playing some delightful groundstrokes, especially his backhand, his opponent varied his game more with his drop shots highly effective.

However, it was the Russian who wilted as Shapovalov romped through the fourth to take it into the deciding set.

The decider looked a tight affair but in reality Khachanov was hanging on saving his service on a couple of occasions.

Finally, though, the Russian -- who had been involved in a record 13 breaks of serve in the fifth set of Monday's win over Sebastian Korda -- was broken and Shapovalov served out the match.

He fell to the ground on securing the last four spot, dusted himself down and led the standing ovation for his gallant Russian opponent as he walked from the court.

"I have to thank you guys," said Shapovalov addressing the crowd.

"There was so many times I thought Karen (Khachanov) was playing too good but you guys kept me going. Thank you so much.

"It was super tough, especially not converting 0-40 in the fifth set. I told myself play every point as hard as you can in the fifth.

"Luck was a bit on my side but it was also a great week from Karen, we both deserved it today."

On his way to the semi-finals, Shapovalov also beat home favourite and two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray but the British spectators appear to have taken the personable Canadian on as one of their own.

"Yeah, I feel like a Brit for sure, I just got to learn the accent and everything," he said.

pi/dj

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