PARIS (Reuters) – Canadian ninth seed Denis Shapovalov twice served for the match against Roberto Carballes Baena before losing 7-5 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 8-6 against the 101st-ranked Spaniard during an absorbing five-hour contest at the French Open on Thursday.
Shapovalov served at 5-4 and 6-5 in the deciding set but Carballes Baena levelled the match each time and then broke the Canadian’s next service game again to reach the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career.
“It is a dream for me to win a match like this in this court and I think I tried to be very solid and focused on my game,” the 27-year-old said in his on-court interview.
“Shapovalov serves very well, he’s very aggressive but I think I played a very good match.”
The 21-year-old Shapovalov had to script a comeback of sorts of his own to take the match to five sets.
In the first meeting between the two, Carballes Baena broke the Canadian’s serve twice to take the opening set.
Shapovalov, considered one of the most talented young players on the men’s circuit, left the court for a medical timeout before the eighth game of the second set for what appeared to be a groin issue.
He returned to take the second set, which saw the duo trade double breaks of serve, in a tiebreak but the injury seemed to continue to bother him in the third as his level dropped.
Carballes Baena, who has played 81 of his 110 tour-level matches on clay, dominated the set by winning four of the first five games and appeared to be heading to victory.
But the Canadian came roaring back in the fourth to level the match before suffering the final set heartbreak.
“For me it’s just amazing. It’s the first time that I won (against) a top-10 player, first time I’m in the third round in a Grand Slam and the first time that I won a match in the fifth set. So I can’t be more happy,” said Carballes Baena.
Shapovalov hit 65 winners but was undone by an enormous 106 unforced errors. The Spaniard managed 31 winners but kept the errors to 42.
Next up for Carballes Baena will be 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Andrej Martin of Slovakia 6-4 7-6(5) 6-1.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Ken Ferris)