Dubai: Canadian world No. 12 Denis Shapovalov plans on competing in fewer tournaments this season if the tennis tour continues to operate under strict coronavirus bubble conditions for the players.
Shapovalov, who enjoyed a winning debut in Dubai thanks to a 6-1, 6-3 second-round success over German big-server Jan-Lennard Struff on Tuesday, says being confined to a hotel room at every tournament due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place can take a mental toll on the players.
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“I definitely don’t want to play too much this year if it’s going to be a bubble life because it is extremely difficult mentally to be locked up like this,” the 21-year-old said in Dubai. “Of course it’s amazing to play, but as the weeks go on, you kind of lose that passion for tennis and a lot of players are struggling with that. So we’re trying to take the approach of minimising that as much as possible and just enjoying every match that I do go out and play this year.”
The third-seeded Shapovalov, who made the quarter-finals in Doha last week, fired 26 winners and just six unforced errors against Struff and next faces Polish No. 13 seed Hubert Hurkacz.
Struff struggled on serve early on which helped Shapovalov speed to a 5-0 lead inside 20 minutes. The young Canadian wrapped up a flawless opening set with an ace, dropping just one point behind his first serve along the way.
A break of serve in game five gave Shapovalov the advantage in the second set and he secured the win — just his second in six meetings with Struff — on the 61-minute mark.
Over on Court 2, surprise Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev, who received a wildcard into the Dubai main draw this week, upset No. 12 seed Dan Evans of Great Britain 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. The Russian will take on Italian Lorenzo Sonego in round three.