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Canada's Shapovalov advances; Auger-Aliassime and Marino ousted at French Open

Canada's Denis Shapovalov plays a shot against Brandon Nakashima of the U.S. during their first round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Monday, May 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Aurelien Morissard)

PARIS — Denis Shapovalov exhaled visibly as he watched Brandon Nakashima's return sail out of play.

Nakashima's unforced error capped a 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3 win for the mercurial Shapovalov on Monday in first-round action at the French Open.

Shapovalov, seeded 26th in Paris, served to love in a final game that contrasted an uneven match featuring big swings in momentum.

The Canadian had to overcome dips in form and a medical timeout to claim the win over Nakashima — an American up-and-comer and winner of last year's Next Generation ATP Finals — in a marathon time of three hours 47 minutes.

The 24-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., was the only Canadian to emerge victorious form Monday's play at Roland Garros after Felix Auger-Aliassime and Rebecca Marino were sent to early exits.

Shapovalov, a former world No. 10, is looking to return to form at the clay Grand Slam. He took a disappointing 7-9 record into Paris.

"Finding my way back," Shapovalov posted on Twitter following the match. 

Shapovalov committed 15 double faults and 68 unforced errors in the match, but he also fired 50 winners to Nakashima's 28 and forced the American into 53 errors, including one to complete a crucial break to go up 3-1 in the fifth set.

Shapovalov will meet Italy's Matteo Arnaldi in the second round.

It will be Shapovalov's first meeting on the ATP Tour with Arnaldi, ranked 106th in the world.

Shapovalov joined Leylah Fernandez of Laval, Que., in the second round. Fernandez upset 21st-seed Magda Linette 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 on Sunday and is scheduled to face Denmark's Clara Tauson in second-round action on Wednesday.

Montreal's Auger-Aliassime, the tournament's 10th seed, was upset 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 by Italian Fabio Fognini.

"I got a bit sick last night, didn't really sleep," Auger-Aliassime said after the match. "Yeah, sick all night. That's just a reality."

Auger-Aliassime entered the tournament after pulling out of last week's Lyon Open with a shoulder injury.

He was unable to find his best against Fognini, a former top-10 player.

“After one set (I was) just cramping and just (couldn't) move anymore." Auger-Aliassime said. “I wasn't sure whether I should keep going or give myself a shot or if I should stop. It was a difficult time, but it's OK. I just need to get healthy again."

Fognini converted eight of nine breakpoint opportunities in his first French Open win against a top-10 player.

Vancouver's Marino dropped a 6-3, 7-5 decision to Russia's Diana Shnaider in women's singles play.

Marino fired four aces but was successful on just 47 per cent of her first serves.

Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., opens her tournament Tuesday against 18th-seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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