Rising Canadian star Denis Shapovalov showed his class after losing to Portuguese Joao Sousa at the ASB Classic in his opening match of the year as he praised the Portuguese post-match. Shapovalov, seeded at No. 7 in the Auckland main draw, lost to world No.
44 Sousa in the Auckland first round despite winning the opening set of the match 4-6 6-4 6-4. The Portuguese found himself trailing by a break early on but broke back the Canadian in the seventh game. Shapovalov, 19, got his second break of the match in the crucial moment of the first set as he broke Sousa in the 10th game to clinch the opener.
Both players struggled mightily on their serve during the second set as Sousa broke Shapovalov three times and lost his serve twice -- but eventually managed to force a decider. The Portuguese broke the Canadian in the seventh game of the third set and then held on to his serve to earn the win after two hours and 20 minutes of battle.
"I felt like I had a lot of chances on my racquet today, but I couldn't capitalise," Shapovalov said post-match, per Stuff.co.nz. "Credit to Joao, he played an unbelievable match, he made me really work for it and he deserved to win.
"He's playing good tennis and I'm sure he's going to continue it. "It's one of those matches. First match of the year, so I'm going to move past it, learn from it and go to Melbourne pretty confident.
"I think I was doing some really good things out there, stuff we've been working on in the off-season. "Obviously you want it to click in the first match, but sometimes that's not the case." Also read: Defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut pulls out of Auckland