Israeli-born Shapovalov advances to Wimbledon semifinal, will play Djokovic

Israeli-born Denis Shapovalov reached his first Wimbledon semifinal on Wednesday beating Russia’s Karen Khachanov 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 in an engrossing tussle that lasted 3 hours and 26 minutes.

Shapovalov will play defending champion Novak Djokovic in Friday’s semifinal.

“Obviously he’s the best player in the world but I think anything is possible,” Shapovalov said.

“When you look at the scoreboard first thing it will be 0-0.

“Nothing else matters. It’s a tennis match and it can go either way. I have full belief in myself and my team. Anything is possible.”

The 22-year-old, who is also into his first Grand Slam semifinal, is the first Canadian man to reach the last four at Wimbledon since Milos Raonic in 2016.

A wonderful encounter in which Shapovalov hit 59 winners saw the vibrant Canadian take the first set after breaking Khachanov at 4-4.

The 25-year-old Russian, like Shapovalov appearing in his first Wimbledon quarterfinal, hit back by taking the next two sets.

Canada’s Denis Shapovalov, right, greets Russia’s Karen Khachanov at the end of the men’s singles quarterfinals match on day nine of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

While he was content to largely stay at the back of the court playing some delightful groundstrokes, especially his backhand, his opponent varied his game more with his drop shots highly effective.

However, it was the Russian who wilted as Shapovalov romped through the fourth to take it into the deciding set.

The decider looked a tight affair but in reality Khachanov was hanging on saving his service on a couple of occasions.

Finally, though, the Russian — who had been involved in a record 13 breaks of serve in the fifth set of Monday’s win over Sebastian Korda — was broken and Shapovalov served out the match with aplomb.

He fell to the ground on securing the last four spot, dusted himself down and led the standing ovation for his gallant Russian opponent as he walked from the court.

“I have to thank you guys,” said Shapovalov, addressing the crowd.

“There was so many time I thought Karen (Khachanov) was playing too good but you guys kept me going. Thank you so much.

“It was super tough, especially not converting 0-40 in the fifth set. I told myself play every point as hard as you can in the fifth.

“Luck was a bit on my side but it was also a great week from Karen, we both deserved it today.”

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic plays a return to Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics during the men’s singles quarterfinals match on day nine of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 7, 2021.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Shapovalov could be joined in the semis by a second Canadian as Felix Auger-Aliassime plays Matteo Berrettini in the match following his on Court One.

Shapovalov’s parents were born in Russia and emigrated to Israel at the collapse of the Soviet Union, before moving to Canada when he was still a baby. His mother, a former Russian national tennis team player, is Jewish, and his father is a Russian Eastern Orthodox Christian.

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