July 16, 2024
Denis Shapovalov

Canada’s Denis Shapovalov was ousted in the first round of the Italian Open on Wednesday, falling 6-7 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (4) to Luciano Darderi of Italy.

The 25-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., struggled with his service game, committing 14 double faults and landing just 55 per cent of his first serves. Darderi capitalized on six break points compared to Shapovalov’s four.

Darderi next meets Mariano Navone of Argentina on Friday.

Denis Shapovalov, ranked 126th in the world, holds a 6-11 record this season.
Fellow Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, seeded 18th in Rome, received a first-round bye and is set to hit the clay court on Friday against the winner of Thursday’s match between Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands and American Nicolas Moreno De Alboran.

Auger-Aliassime enters the tournament fresh from a finals appearance at last week’s Madrid Open.
In other men’s action, Brazilian qualifier Thiago Monteiro eliminated Gael Monfils 6-2, 7-5; and Yoshihito Nishioka defeated Sebastian Ofner 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (4).

Rafael Nadal, the record 10-time Rome champion, opens against Belgian qualifier Zizou Bergs on Thursday.

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who is also back in Rome after a month out, is on the opposite half of the draw from Nadal. But second-ranked Jannik Sinner and third-ranked Carlos Alcaraz both withdrew because of injuries.
Former Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini also withdrew, saying he wasn’t ready to compete following a series of physical issues.

And the Italian federation announced that Camila Giorgi, an Italian who was once ranked as high as No. 26 and won a WTA 1000 event in Montreal 2021, has retired.
Rome is the last big tune-up before the French Open, which starts May 26.

Osaka proud of mental focus
Naomi Osaka looked comfortable in her opening match, beating 45th-ranked Clara Burel 7-6 (2), 6-1.

It was Osaka’s first victory over a top-50 player on clay since defeating Victoria Azarenka at the 2019 French Open.
Osaka was proud of the way she maintained her mental focus after dropping her serve while serving for the first set at 5-3.

“Just being able to hang in there and eventually close it on my terms is something that I’m very proud of myself for,” she said.
It’s also the first time Osaka is playing in Rome since 2019 when she reached the quarterfinals.
Osaka, who was formerly ranked No. 1 but is now No. 173 after a maternity break, served eight aces and produced 27 winners to her opponent’s 10. She’ll next face 19th-seeded Marta Kostyuk, who reached the final of a clay event in Stuttgart, Germany, recently.

Also, qualifier Bernarda Pera beat fellow American Caroline Dolehide 7-6 (6), 6-3 and will next face top-ranked Iga Swiatek; Magda Linette beat Zhu Lin 6-3, 6-2; Brenda Fruhvirtova rallied past Taylor Townsend 3-6, 6-2, 6-0; and Lesia Tsurenko eliminated Donna Vekic 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (5).

Several other matches were postponed due to rain.

On Tuesday, Leylah Fernandez of Laval, Que., saw her career record in the main draw of the Italian Open dip to 1-3 with a 6-4, 6-1 loss to Romanian veteran Ana Bogdan.

The 21-year-old Fernandez struggled with her serve, winning 56.1 per cent of first serve points and was broken five times on eight changes.
Bogdan saved five of six breaks and won 56.1 per cent of total points to wrap up the match in one hour 42 minutes.

Fernandez, ranked 34th in the world, has an 8-10 mark this season.

Andy Murray to return from injury in Geneva
Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray is set to return from his ankle injury at the Geneva Open this month.

Tournament organizers announced Wednesday they had given the 36-year-old Murray a wild-card entry for the clay-court event that starts May 18.
Murray damaged ligaments in his left ankle during a match at the Miami Open last month. He opted against surgery.

The former No. 1 has only played sparingly since having hip surgery in 2018 and has said he will probably retire after this summer. He is a two-time Wimbledon and Olympic champion and is hoping to compete for Britain again at the Paris Games.

The Geneva Open is a key tune-up for the French Open, where Murray is a former finalist but has only played once since reaching the 2017 semifinals.

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