Denis Shapovalov advanced to the second round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia after a long and close fight with Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 7-6 3-6 6-3 in over three hours. The fun and exciting battled had plenty of amazing tennis, but also a fair share of drama, including a penalty point for Shapovalov resulting in a deciding break in the second set.
“I think it was an unbelievable match, unbelievable atmosphere,” told the Canadian after the match: “Obviously a lot of things happened in the heat of the moment. I need to be better with my behavior. I have apologized and everything. Yeah, I mean, I’ll just try to be better from it. But it was a good match, good tennis. It was fun to be out there. It was very electric. Yeah, definitely, definitely one of those matches that stick with you and enlightens you”.
The 23-year-old engaged on a verbal fight with someone in the crowd and eventually broke a rule by crossing the net to show a mark to the umpire.
“I mean, I have never obviously done it before, otherwise I would have known the rules,” he explained: “like I said, it was the heat of the moment, so I got emotional. I apologized after. Obviously, it was my mistake. There’s nothing they can do. Yeah, I mean, I’ll know the rule for next time. I definitely won’t step over the net.”
Despite this incident, the Canadian felt that it was a good match and both players should be proud of the fight they put on court.
“It was a very good level I thought, a very great match from both of us. Even the crowd, everyone was involved. It’s one of those high-quality matches. Yeah, I’m just super happy to win. Obviously, Lorenzo is a super tough player. I knew that going into it. I’m happy to squeeze out the first set and play the way I did in the third. I think my level just kept going up throughout the match, so I’m very happy”.
All’s well that ends well, one could say. Especially because, despite the turbulent engagement with part of the spectators, Shapovalov feels like he made peace with the Italian crowd.
“I’ve played in Rome a lot of times. The fans love me here and I love the fans. So, I think there’s a huge love. Even after the match, there were a lot of people standing, waiting for pictures, stuff like that. I do really appreciate the sport and the love I get here. I’m super excited to play another match – not against an Italian!”
For his happiness, the next opponent will not be a home player as Nikoloz Basilashvili is waiting for him in the second round.