Last week, the Canadian had to fight back in a tricky Stuttgart three-setter. At the cinch Championships on Thursday, the second seed dropped just five games to topple the defending Queen’s Club champion 6-2, 6-3 and reach his first quarter-final in London.
“It’s never easy playing Feliciano, especially on these courts on grass,” Shapovalov said in an on-court interview. “I’m super happy to get the win… When you have a big server like Feliciano, you kind of have to guess [on the return] and hopefully you get a racquet on it. I was hoping for a lot of second serves today.”
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Shapovalov got his wish against Lopez, who struck only 54 per cent (28/52) of his first serves, giving the Canadian plenty of looks at his attackable second delivery. He didn’t waste his chances, breaking serve three times from six opportunities while not allowing Lopez to make any inroads on his own serves.
The second seed fired eight aces en route to victory in 69 minutes. Shapovalov raised his level after settling into the early exchanges, reeling off the last four games to take the opening set. Though 39-year-old Lopez held firm in the second set and saved a match point at 5-2, he couldn’t hold back Shapovalov as he charged to victory.
“[Grass] is a surface I’ve always loved to play on,” Shapovalov said. “Everyone in their career needs to learn how to play on it and we don’t have too much time to practise on it. It’s definitely a game I’m developing and learning how to play here, but it always feels so natural and amazing to be on the court.”
Shapovalov will next face Frances Tiafoe for a spot in the semi-finals after the American took down qualifier Viktor Troicki 6-3, 7-6(3). He owns a 3-1 lead in the ATP Head2Head against Tiafoe, though they have yet to meet on grass courts.
Tiafoe, who arrived in London fresh off a run to an ATP Challenger Tour title in Nottingham, continued the momentum against the Serbian, firing 21 winners and only six unforced errors en route to victory.
“I’ve always really liked playing on grass,” Tiafoe said. “It suits my game; I have a really flat backhand and I’m a guy who really loves to play with intangibles. I’m just really enjoying myself right now. I’m trying to enjoy the game and just have fun with it and not take it so seriously and putting too much pressure on myself. It’s been working out pretty well.”
The unseeded American moved into his second Queen’s Club quarter-final (also 2018) and his second of the season after the Delray Beach Open presented by VITACOST.com (l. to Norrie).