Japan Open: Shapovalov serves past Johnson in Round of 32 clash

Canadian tennis player Denis Shapovalov produced a near-perfect serving performance to register a win against America’s Steve Johnson in a Round of 32 clash at the Japan Open Tennis Championships, here on Wednesday.

In a 6-3, 7-6(3) win, the seventh seed lost just one point on first serve, firing 11 aces as he won 37 of 38 points behind his first delivery. He was further aided by making 76 per cent of his first serves and did not face a break point in the first-round encounter.

“(This was) definitely one of my best serving matches. I kind of felt like I needed to go against Steve. Obviously if I’m giving him a lot of looks on second serves, then he’s going to capitalize and put a lot of pressure. I’m very happy with my serving performance today and hopefully I can keep it up throughout the week,” said Shapovalov.

“The courts are playing pretty quickly, so if you’re putting a lot of first serves in, I think the percentage to win the point is really high here,” he added.

Shapovalov avoided the Tokyo fate of his Seoul final opponent, Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, who lost earlier in the day as he struggled with his energy levels and the new conditions after the short adjustment period.

“I feel good. I’ve had this experience a couple times already, playing the week after making a final and having a quick turnaround,” the Canadian said.

“In general, I think the most important thing for me is to feel mentally fresh. The body has always been feeling good, knock on wood. I feel good mentally, very motivated. When you do lose in a final it almost motivates you a little bit more than winning, to play the next week. I was fighting like crazy today. I had to go against Steve and will continue to do so the rest of the week,” he added.

A 2018 semifinalist in Tokyo, Shapovalov will next face Japanese qualifier Rio Noguchi for a place in the quarters.

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