In one of the most anticipated opening day matches at Melbourne Park, the 11th seed Denis Shapovalov defeated the world's most promising teenager Jannik Sinner after an epic battle. The Canadian toppled the Italian 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in three hours and 55 minutes and advanced into the second round in Melbourne for the third time in four years.
Jannik claimed the second ATP title a few days before this encounter, beating four rivals in three days and spending many hours on the court. Despite that, Sinner made Shapovalov run for his money at the season's first Major, pushing him to the limits for almost four hours and winning only eight points fewer than Denis.
The Canadian was more aggressive player, producing 62 winners and 71 unforced errors and leaving a teenager on a more modest 26-44 ratio. Jannik certainly had his chances, but he had to play better on break chances to cause an upset, converting only three out of 20!
Denis was more efficient in that department, delivering five breaks from ten opportunities to prevail and reach the second round. There was nothing to separate them in the shortest and more advanced exchanges. Shapovalov forged the difference in the mid-range rallies, alongside that impressive performance while facing break points.
Jannik Sinner and Denis Shapovalov battled for five sets in Melbourne.
Jannik grabbed a break in game two and forced Denis' error in the next one to forge a 3-0 advantage and make a strong start. A teenager wasted another break chance in game six and held with a service winner at 5-3 to wrap up the opener.
Shapovalov had to dig deep in the second set's opening games, fending off three break points to stay in touch. Returning at 4-3, the Canadian forced an error from his opponent to secure his first break and closed the set a few minutes later with a beautiful volley.
Denis took charge in set number three and grabbed five straight games to wrap it up 6-2 and move closer to the finish line, looking good to seal the deal against an exhausted opponent. From 3-1 down in the fourth, Sinner found the more inner strength to fight back, delivering breaks in games six and ten to steal the set and force a decider.
At the beginning of the final set, the young gun wasted four game points and lost serve that would prove crucial. Denis saved a break point at 2-1 and faced another while serving for the victory at 5-4 following a double fault.
The Canadian forced a mistake from the Italian and sealed the deal with a forehand down the line winner for a massive celebration and a place in the second round.