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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday October 26, 2020

One of the toughest 500-level draws in recent memory began with an unpredictable cluster of results.

No.5-seeded Andrey Rublev continued his torrid tennis on Monday at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, but No.8-seeded Denis Shapovalov was knocked off by a home favorite that had only won one match previously in his ATP career.

Tennis Express

Rublev, true to form, ran roughshod over Norbert Gombos on Monday, 6-3, 6-2. The Russian, now ranked No.8 in the world and rapidly closing in on a spot at the prestigious Nitto ATP Finals in London, was close to perfect on the day. He dropped just ten points on serve and never faced a break point against the Slovakian to improve to 35-7 on the season.

The evening was not so simple for Shapovalov, who lost the script midway through the opening set against World No.153 Jurij Rodionov of Austria and fell 6-4, 7-5 thanks to 10 double faults and a total of 34 unforced errors, which was 19 more than Rodionov and far too many in the end.

Shapovalov led by a break in the opening set, but lost his range and finally ended up surrendering the set on a double-fault. He smashed his racquet and headed off court for a break, and returned in better form. But Rodionov stayed with him and the Canadian failed to hold serve to force a tiebreaker in the final game of the match. It was a very loose game from Shapovalov that featured the last two of his ten double-faults.

It was a massive win for the 21-year-old southpaw, who notched his first ATP victory at Roland Garros in September after qualifying for the main draw. He entered the contest with a 1-7 lifetime record on the ATP Tour, but had earned six Top 100 victories on the challenger tour.

In the end he proved to be a worthy adversary for an out of sorts Shapovalov, and he will next face either Aljaz Bedene or Dan Evans in the second round.

The loss will put a dent in Shapovalov's hopes to reach the ATP Finals. He's currently over 400 points out of the final spot, with three players to hurdle to have a shot.

In other action on Monday in Vienna, 2018 champion Kevin Anderson saved three match points to dash the hopes of another local favorite, Dennis Novak, to win 6-7(2) 6-4 7-6(6) and set up a second-round encounter with Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta.

Anderson was facing three match points at 3-6 in the final set tiebreaker but handled his business, winning two straight points on serve before Novak double-faulted away the third match point.

In total the South African, now ranked 111, won the final five points to claim his seventh victory of 2020.

Carreno Busta moved through when Gael Monfils retired while trailing 6-1, 2-0, with what looked to be a neck injury. The Frenchman, who started 2020 magnificently, has now dropped five straight matches and has not won since Dubai—he’s winless since tennis restarted in July.

Monfils has scheduled a press conference for Tuesday morning on his social media (Twitch) channel, but reassured fans that he has no plans to retire.

Borna Coric defeated Taylor Fritz, 6-4, 6-4, in the only other singles match on Monday.

Top-seeded Bruno Soares and Mate Pavic defeated Karol Drzewiecki and Szymon Walkow, 7-6(7), 6-3 in doubles, while second-seeded Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury toppled Grigor Dimitrov and Stan Wawrinka 6-4 3-6 10-6.

Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski ended hopes for hometowners Dominic Thiem and Dennis Novak 7-5, 6-7(1) 10-5.


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