Denis Shapovalov had no wins in the ATP tournaments on clay prior to Madrid and he has scored already five in two Masters 1000 events, reaching the semi-final in the Spanish capital as the third youngest player in the semi-final of Masters 1000 event after Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet and making a winning start in Rome following a hard-fought 1-6 6-3 7-6 triumph over the 15th seed and a former semi-finalist Tomas Berdych in two hours and four minutes. Berdych won their only previous meeting at Queen's last year, prevailing 7-5 in the deciding set, and today's match also went down to the wire after they split the opening two sets.
The more experienced player won the opening set with ease after too many errors from Denis, but the Canadian raised his level in the rest of the match, forcing a decider and emerging as a winner in the tie break. The youngster was the leading figure on the court, hitting much more winners and errors than his rival (36-52 compared to 10-26 from Berdych) and bringing the match home after taking the last two points of the match.
With this victory, Denis Shapovalov becomes the top-ranked Canadian on the next week's list, passing Milos Raonic who has occupied that spot since 2010. Struggling Bosnian Damir Dzumhur has played one of his best matches of the season so far, ousting Fernando Verdasco 6-3 6-1 in an hour and four minutes for his ninth Masters 1000 win. This was their first meeting and Damir controlled the scoreboard from start to finish, saving five out of seven break points he faced and dominating on the return as well after converting all six break chances he created! It was a shaky start from both players, with four breaks of serve in the opening six games but Dzumhur had the set under control as he broke twice more in games seven and nine, taking all four return games for a 6-3.
Verdasco failed to make an impact on both serve and return in set number two and he got broken in games four and six before Damir sealed the deal with a hold at love in game seven to book the place in the second round. First round results: