Denis Shapovalov was determined not to let another semi-final spot pass by
Denis Shapovalov was not prepared to let lightning strike twice at a grand slam quarter-final after coming through an epic five-set clash with Karen Khachanov at Wimbledon.
The Canadian is still hurting from his experience at the US Open where he came back to level at two sets all against Pablo Carreno Busta before going on to lose.
He found himself in a similar position against Khachanov on Court One, but was determined to make sure he saw the job through and did so, claiming a 6-4 3-6 5-7 6-1 6-4 victory in almost three and a half hours.
It sent him through to a first grand slam semi-final where Novak Djokovic will be waiting on Friday.
“I think going into the fifth set today was exactly what I took (from the US Open). I was in a similar position against Carreno Busta at the US Open,” the former Wimbledon junior title winner said.
“I won the fourth set I think at 6-0 or 6-1, really easily. It kind of allowed myself to just, like, relax a little bit and think that everything’s under control, that I have momentum.
“Then things kind of turned quickly. So I knew going into the fifth set I’ve got to leave everything I have on the court for every single point that I play. I really felt like I was really in every single return, every single shot. That’s the difference I made.
“Actually after the fourth set, I told myself, just using that experience from the US Open, this is what I want to change and really start the set off well.
“I knew I had to serve big as well. I think the fifth set is where I served the best, to be honest. My percentage for sure raised. The speed of my serves were much faster.
“I think my game just elevated. It’s something to be super, super proud of myself for.”
Not many people will give him much of a look-in against Djokovic, who is easing through the rounds in pursuit of a 20th grand slam title, but he is backing himself.
“It’s definitely a big challenge, for sure,” he said. “Obviously he’s been playing super, super well this season and the last couple years. He loves the surface.
“Definitely a super difficult match ahead of me. Like I said, I believe in my game. I think I’ve been playing really, really good tennis.
“I mean, to beat these players with the way I’ve been playing, it’s not easy to do. So I have full belief in myself and in my game that I’m able to win on Friday.”
For Khachanov, who was also eyeing a first grand slam semi-final, it was a match too far as his five-set clash with Sebastian Korda on Monday caught up with him.
He said: “In these kind of matches where obviously it’s a five-setter, I mean, you can see it as both guys have obviously chances, otherwise you wouldn’t make it to the five sets.
“The difference sometimes is mental, sometimes is the game. I didn’t really analyse it yet because straight after the match I came here. I think he went for it more.
“He’s a kind of player like I was expecting before, like I am as well. He went first for the shots. He served much better than me especially in those moments.
“I think during the whole match, the only thing that I was today missing a little bit better is the serve. He serves better, went for the shots more. He got the win.”
Khachanov ran into trouble with the umpire early in the match after his cap did not fit in with the strict all-white dress code.
The Russian explained: “I think there was a little bit of black colour inside the hat. I don’t know if you can really see it from inside. But the rules are the rules, so the referee asked me to change it. Basically I changed it, so that’s it. Pretty simple.”
Andy Murray’s emotional message as his Olympic dream dies – now what happens next?
“I feel crushed after today’s loss. Sport can be brutal,” wrote Andy Murray.
Paula Badosa leaves court in a wheelchair while Elena Svitolina headlines Olympic semi-final line-up
Final four confirmed for the Tokyo Games.
Olympic medallist insists Novak Djokovic is not under pressure to win gold at Tokyo Games
Novak Djokovic should not put pressure on himself to win at Tokyo Games.
Underarm serves and tweeners as Nick Kyrgios returns with a bang as he wins Atlanta opener
An entertaining return to action from Nick Kyrgios.
‘I don’t know if I’ll get the opportunity to play again’ at Olympics, admits Andy Murray after defeat
Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury’s Olympic campaign over.
‘If I die will the ITF take responsibility?’ asks Daniil Medvedev as heat takes its toll at Olympics
“I was ready to just fall down on the court,” says Medvedev.
Liam Broady delights in ‘career-high moment’ after upsetting Hubert Hurkacz at the Tokyo Olympics
“It couldn’t have gone better,” says Liam Broady.
Andy Murray gives fitness update after men’s doubles win and explains why he ‘loves’ the Olympics
Andy Murray happy to prioritise men’s doubles at Olympics.
No complacency from Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury as they look to join Britain’s medal rush at Olympics
Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury into the men’s doubles quarter-finals.