GENEVA — Canada's Denis Shapovalov says a heartbreaking loss against Rafael Nadal last week is now paying off.
The second-seeded Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ont., is heading to the final of Geneva Open after beating qualifier Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-4, 7-5 in semifinal action at the ATP Tour 250 clay-court event on Friday.
Shapovalov lost a third-set tiebreak against Nadal, a 20-time Grand Slam champion and the man widely regarded as the best clay-court player in history, last week in a third-round thriller at the Italian Open.
"Even though I didn't get the win against Rafa, I was playing at his level and playing some really good tennis," Shapovalov said of the clay-court match versus Nadal.
"I just tried to take the positives from that match and keep going forward. Obviously, it was a tough loss but I was really focused on the positives. I thought I played really well and I'm really happy to continue that level."
Shapovalov will face No. 3 seed Casper Ruud of Norway in the final on Saturday. The 22-year-olds have never squared off at the top level.
"I know Casper very well. We played in the juniors together. We go way back," Shapovalov said. "For sure he's improved a lot. He's played at a really, really high level the last couple weeks, the last couple months. It's really fun to see his game. I definitely enjoy watching him play. It's going to be a fun battle."
The Canadian won a semifinal for just the second time in 12 chances on the ATP Tour with his victory over Cuevas.
Shapovalov won 75 per cent of points when he got his first serve in and saved three of five break points.
Shapovalov has said he prefers playing on grass or hard-courts, but he knows he can make his game work on clay.
"It's a surface I've always known I can play well on," he said. "I do enjoy faster tennis ... I just have to be a little more patient and play a little bit safer or smarter perhaps. Whereas grass, you can kind of get away with big serves and big shots. Here, you almost have to play chess and construct the point."
Ruud beat Spain's Pablo Andujar 6-3, 6-2 in the other Geneva semifinal.
Ruud is on a roll, having reached the semifinals at his past three events and the quarterfinals at his two tournaments before that.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2021.
The Canadian Press