Agitated Djokovic regains calm to see off Shapovalov challenge
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[January 19, 2019]
By Sudipto Ganguly
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Top seed Novak
Djokovic regained his composure after a third-set meltdown to stave
off the challenge of Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov and reach
the fourth round of the Australian Open with a 6-3 6-4 4-6 6-0
victory on Saturday.
The win guaranteed the Serb will remain number one in the world when
the new rankings are released on Jan. 28 and set up a clash against
another young gun in Russian Daniil Medvedev for a place in the
Djokovic had run up a 17-match winning streak against left-handers
at Grand Slams since losing to Rafa Nadal at the 2014 French Open
final and there were few early signs that he would not be able to
extend it to 18.
Shapovalov knew he would have to go for his shots if he was to have
any chance of winning and although he did end up hitting five more
winners than the Serb, it came at the cost of 24 more unforced
"Other than the little letdown that I had in the third set ... I
thought I played well, especially in the fourth set," Djokovic told
"I expected Denis to come out and be aggressive. I just stayed solid
from back of the court and served well, played the right shots."
The 14-time Grand Slam winner stamped his authority early on by
breaking the 19-year-old's serve three times and converted his only
breakpoint opportunity in the second set while leading 5-4 to double
The 31-year-old lost his cool in the third set when his request to
have the artificial lighting turned off was ignored and, muttering
angrily to himself, he gave up consecutive breaks of serve to
concede the set.
"I don't remember having lights in the past years at 5 p.m. Maybe
I'm wrong, maybe not. I just felt with such a low position of the
sun, the lights being switched on at 5 p.m. was completely
unnecessary," Djokovic said.
"It was very bright. There was no reason for the lights. But the
explanation that I got from supervisor was that TV requested that.
Whatever TV says, we have to respect I guess."
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Serbia's Novak Djokovic gestures after winning the match against
Canada’s Denis Shapovalov. REUTERS/Edgar Su
The Serb let out his frustration with a huge roar when he broke
Shapovalov early in the fourth, though, and romped through the rest
of the set to remain on course for an unprecedented seventh title at
"I was agitated. As I said, should not happen to me. I know better.
I have experience. But it does happen, I guess," Djokovic added. "I
allowed him to come back to the match."
Former Wimbledon junior champion Shapovalov said playing Djokovic on
Rod Laver Arena was a career highlight in itself but he hoped he was
not too far away from winning such encounters.
"To play a champion like him in a court like that in an event like
this, it's a dream come true for me," he said.
"During the match, I was smiling, enjoying my time out there. It was
a lot of fun.
"At the same time I do want to compete against these guys in the
future, in the near future."
Reigning Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Djokovic will next meet
15th seed Medvedev, who notched up his best Grand Slam showing to
date by reaching the fourth round with a 6-2 7-6(3) 6-3 win over
David Goffin of Belgium earlier in the day.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Nick Mulvenney)
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