ATP Cup: Novak Djokovic edges Denis Shapovalov to send Serbia into semis

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ATP Cup: Novak Djokovic edges Denis Shapovalov to send Serbia into semis

After Australia and Russia, Serbia is the third country that secured the semi-final spot at the ATP Cup, beating Canada 2-0. Dusan Lajovic proved to be too strong for the struggling youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime while world no.

2 Novak Djokovic had to dig deep to deliver that second point, prevailing against Denis Shapovalov in the deciding set tie break to propel Serbia over the finish line. Lajovic needed an hour and 39 minutes to dismiss Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 6-2, dropping only 19 points on serve and fending off two break chances to mount the pressure on Felix who hasn't played well at the beginning of the season.

The Canadian sprayed too many errors and offered plenty of opportunities to Lajovic who converted three out of 11 to control the scoreboard and push Serbia in front. Dusan landed a perfect return in the fifth game to grab a break at love, wasting more chances in the seventh game and saving a break point in the next game to remain in front, closing the set at 5-4 for a massive boost.

Felix couldn't do much in set number two, struggling to find his shots and losing serve in the fifth game when his forehand landed long. Another forehand mistake cost the Canadian his service game at 2-4, allowing Lajovic to seal the deal with three service winners in the eighth game and add another victory to his tally.

The second clash was much closer, with Djokovic beating Shapovalov 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 in two hours and 40 minutes, delivering the fourth singles victory in 2020 and reducing the gap to Rafael Nadal even more on the ATP list. It was the 23rd victory for Novak over the Canadian rivals in as many encounters, finding the way to halt the youngster despite many ups and downs on both sides, with players struggling with the heat and the crowd.

Denis gave his best to challenge a great rival, hitting many more winners than Novak but also more errors, some of those in the crucial moments that cost him a lot. Djokovic repelled five out of seven break chances and grabbed three breaks from five shots, staying calm in the deciding tie break to move Serbia into the last four.

Shapovalov landed only 52% of the first serve in but that was his most potent weapon of the day, struggling more on the second but still offering only five chances to one of the best returners in the world. Novak saw none of those in the first set that Denis clinched with a break in game nine, saving four game points and delivering a break that earned the opener for him.

Djokovic bounced back in set number two, fending off three break points in the third game to gather momentum and storm over Shapovalov in the remaining games, securing breaks in games four and six for a commanding 6-1 ahead of the decider where he was the favorite now.

Denis was back at his best to challenge world no. 2 in the first eight games, suffering a break at 4-4 before pulling it back instantly to level the score and extend his chances ahead of the tie break. There, the more experienced player opened a 5-0 advantage and converted the fourth match point at 6-4 to emerge at the top and bring home another impressive tie for Serbia who will now face Russia in the battle for the final.