Denis Shapovalov returns to Challengers after seven years and loses

Denis Shapovalov lost to Aleksandar Vukic in straight sets in the first round

by Jovica Ilic
Denis Shapovalov returns to Challengers after seven years and loses
© Stream screenshot

Former world no. 10 Denis Shapovalov reached the Roland Garros third round, falling to Hubert Hurkacz despite a decent effort. The Canadian turned his focus on grass and entered the Lexus Surbiton Trophy Challenger, his first event at that level since July 2017!

Denis faced Aleksandar Vukic in the first round and suffered a 7-6, 6-3 defeat in an hour and 14 minutes. Shapovalov competed in Surbiton seven years ago, passing three qualifying rounds before falling to Jordan Thompson in the main draw first match.

Denis could not pass the first obstacle this season either, playing one reliable return game and getting broken three times to propel Aleksandar through. The Canadian landed nine aces and eight double faults.

Denis Shapovalov, Surbiton 2024© Stream screenshot

He struggled behind the first and second serve and suffered three breaks from six chances offered to the Aussie, wasting a 5-3 advantage in the second set.

Vukic defended the first and second serve nicely, giving away 12 points in his games and sealing the deal in straight sets after a rock-solid performance in the tie break. Shapovalov held at love in the first game of the match with a booming serve, and Vukic followed that with a hold at 15 for 1-1.

A left-hander hit a double fault in the third game and faced issues. Denis denied two break points and wasted many game points that could have kept him safe. Aleksandar missed the third break point before seizing the fourth after his rival's forehand mistake.

Aleksandar Vukic, Surbiton Challenger 2024© Stream screenshot

Denis Shapovalov fell to Aleksandar Vukic in Surbiton.

Vukic cemented the break with a hold at love in game four and fired a booming serve two games later for a 4-2 advantage.

The Canadian stayed in touch with a fine hold in game seven before his rival forged a 5-3 lead with a hold at love. Denis served to stay in the set in game nine and sprayed a forehand error to offer Aleksandar a set point. Vukic converted it with a volley winner at the net, moving 6-3 in front after 32 minutes.

The second set kicked off with four comfortable holds before Shapovalov made his only push on the return, causing Vukic's mistakes and delivering a break that sent him 3-2 in front. Denis held at love for a 4-2 lead, looking good to force a decider.

Denis Shapovalov & Aleksandar Vukic, Surbiton Challenger 2024© Stream screenshot

The Canadian fired a service winner in the eighth game, remaining in front and serving for the set at 5-4. Suddenly, Shapovalov lost the ground and faced three break points following a double fault.

He missed a forehand on the first, experiencing a break at love and keeping his opponent in contention. The Canadian held after a deuce in the 12th game to introduce a tie break, hoping to force a decider. Denis sprayed a forehand error in the second point and lost another point on serve to fall further behind.

A left-hander placed a forehand long to fall 6-0 behind, offering his opponent six match points. Shapovalov hit a double fault on the first, ending his campaign in the worst way.

Denis Shapovalov Aleksandar Vukic