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Shapovalov sent packing by Fucsovics

  • Reem Abulleil

Marton Fucsovics says he played some of the best tennis of his career en route to a 6-3 6-7(7) 6-1 7-6(3) upset of No.13 seed Denis Shapovalov in the first round of Australian Open 2020 on Monday.

Melbourne Park appears to always bring the best out of the Hungarian, whose best Grand Slam result to date came at the Australian Open two years ago when he made a run to the fourth round before falling to Roger Federer.

MORE: All the results from Day 1 in Melbourne 

“Actually I never lost in the first round in the main draw here. I like the atmosphere, I like the courts, the speed of the court, I like the balls, the weather, it’s good to be here,” a smiling Fucsovics told reporters after the win.

“I have good memories here, and also a lot of Hungarian fans, they were supporting me and that was very important for me in the hard moments.”

Fucsovics credits the work he has put in to improve his serve during the offseason with his new coaches Miklós Jancsó and Zoltán Nagy for his strong start to 2020, which saw him reach the quarterfinals at the ATP event in Doha as a qualifier, and now take out an in-form Shapovalov in Melbourne.

“We were working a lot on my serve, and I think everyone could see that my serve improved a lot,” said the 27-year-old.

“I lost my serve once in the match and I think that was the key, I was serving very well and I played aggressive when I needed to. Everything was working well today.”

Fucsovics won 81 per cent of the points on his first serve against Shapovalov, and 54 per cent on his second serve.

Entering the clash, the world No.67 had won just one of his last 12 matches against top-20 opposition. His victory over Shapovalov was just the sixth top-20 tour-level success of his career.

Typically reserved in his reactions on court, Fucsovics showed lots of emotion on his way to the three-hour, 13-minute victory, especially after coming back from 2-4 down in the fourth set.

“It was a really good moment, one of my biggest wins of my career,” he said.

“I tried to keep it [my emotions] low and just focus on the next point, but when it was tiebreak in the fourth set and I got the lead 5-2, of course everything came out of me. And I really wanted to win this match.”

For his part, the 20-year-old Shapovalov admitted he was overcome by nerves throughout the contest.

“I think I played really nervous today. I was in really good shape, really good conditions going into the tournament. But I just played really tight today,” confessed the world No.13.

“I think it’s normal, in a Grand Slam you obviously want to do really well. I was really looking forward to this tournament, really excited. It just got the better of me. Marton started really well in the match and after that I was just playing, it felt like every point was just really tight. It’s just a learning experience for me.”

Shapovalov felt he had opportunities to turn the match around, but couldn’t bring out his best when he needed it the most.

“I’m not trying to take anything away from him, I think he played an excellent match. He played really well in the fourth-set tiebreak and he was super solid the whole match, but obviously not all of me was there today,” said the Canadian lefty, who had never lost in the Australian Open first round prior to Monday.

Shapovalov couldn't get on terms with the Hungarian

The fast-rising Shapovalov cracked the top 15 in the world rankings for the first time last November, after he clinched a maiden ATP title in Stockholm, and reached his first Masters 1000 final in Paris. He has posted two top-10 wins this year already – over Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas in ATP Cup – and narrowly lost in a final-set tiebreak to Novak Djokovic.

He had high expectations coming into the Australian Open, and concedes his first-round exit is “really disappointing”.

“It is definitely an adjustment,” he says of his new position as a top-15 player. 

“Obviously I feel like my game is there to beat any of the top guys, but of course there are so many great players out there. If I’m a little bit off, if I’m a little bit nervous, anyone could beat me as well. It’s just about learning going forward. Obviously it’s a really disappointing one, but there’s nothing to do now except learn from it.”