Shapovalov and Kyrgios among early exits in Stuttgart
The start of the grass season is going better for some players than others, as the Mercedes Open in Stuttgart revealed that some players have yet to really get to grips with the surface.
Denis Shapovalov and Nick Kyrgios were two of the first casualties in the German tournament, with Jan-Lennard Struff once again getting one over a higher-seeded opponent.
Struff has become one of the players to watch when it comes to sports betting upsets. Shapovalov was once again his victim – the two met in the first round of the French Open two weeks ago, with the same result happening.
While Shapovalov is young and regularly touted as one of the best hopes for Canadian tennis, he has faltered somewhat in the last few weeks. After threatening to become a top 20 regular with some consistent tennis, he is now down to 25 in the rankings, and this defeat will not aid his cause.
The 7-5, 6-4 result came in just an hour and a half, suggesting that Shapovalov had little appetite to fight his way back into the game, and will need to discover some form if he is to make any headway this grass season.
Nick Kyrgios, the troubled yet incredibly talented Australian, is always capable of surprises, but has not made it to round two either, losing to Matteo Berrettini 6-4, 6-4. However, he still found time to give his fans some enjoyable moments with a couple of trademark shots, including an underarm serve.
There are still two Canadians left in the draw, and both will be among the favourites. The young and upcoming Félix Auger-Aliassime found easy progress with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Ernests Gulbis, while Milos Raonic got the better of Alexei Popyrin in a tough 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory.
In the Rosmalen Grass Court Championships in the Netherlands, defending champion Richard Gasquet managed to keep his hopes alive. After a poor start against Aljaž Bedene, he found himself a set down and at 5-5 in the second-set tiebreak, but fired back to win 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-4.
Elsewhere in the tournament, David Goffin breezed through with a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, but will face a tougher task in the next round when he comes up against Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who beat Matthew Ebden 6-4, 7-5.
The top seed in this tournament is world number six Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek star was given a bye for round one, and will now face Nicolás Jarry in the next round after he overcame Jannik Sinner 7-6 (4), 6-3.
Words: Danielle Nixon