2021 Australian Open: Denis Shapovalov outlasts Jannik Sinner in late-night thriller
Photo: Peter Staples

The most anticipated first-round match of the Australian Open lived up to its billing as 11th seed Denis Shapovalov outlasted Italian young gun Jannik Sinner 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in three hours, 55 minutes.

Playing until 12:48am Melbourne time, the Canadian fired off 62 winners and was a tidy 39 of 53 at net as the victory snaps his six-match losing streak while halting Sinner's ten-match winning run.

Shapovalov fights past Sinner in first round marathon

It was Sinner that got off to a fast start, using his backhand to break Shapovalov in the second game of the match. He then consolidated the break with a hold for a 3-0 lead.

The Canadian avoided going down a double break with an ace on break point to stay within touch at 4-2, but it was the 19-year old Italian who would take the set in 39 minutes.

In the first game of the second set that lasted nine minutes, Shapovalov saved three break points to hold and another next time he served, combining strong serving and net play to go in front 2-1.

Shapovalov follows through on a forehand during his first-round victory/Photo: Asanka Brendon Ratanayake/Reuters
Shapovalov follows through on a forehand during his first-round victory/Photo: Asanka Brendon Ratanayake/Reuters

Taking advantage of some errors from the normally reliable Sinner backhand, the 11th seed struck a powerful forehand to break for a 5-3 lead and a game later, the match was level after Shapovalov held.

Again, Sinner put the Shapovalov serve under pressure immediately, holding three break points in the Canadian's first service game of the third set, but his forehand began to misfire and Shapovalov held.

The momentum swung towards the Canadian as Sinner  missed an easy overhead at 30-30 to set up break point and a double fault gave Shapovalov a 3-2 lead.

Another service break two games later put the 11th seed a game from a two sets to one lead and trying to serve it out, he fired an ace to wrap up his fifth consecutive game, moving one set from victory.

After again double-faulting early in the fourth set, it looked as though Shapovalov would cruise to victory ahead 3-1, but Sinner fought back, breaking twice, the second of those coming when the Canadian netted a forehand, to force a fifth set.
 

Sinner plays a forehand during his match in Melbourne/Photo: Australian Open Twitter account
Sinner plays a forehand during his match in Melbourne/Photo: Australian Open Twitter account

A medical timeout to treat a shoulder injury in between the fourth and fifth sets gave Shapovalov a chance to rest and he powered forehands in the opening game of the deciding set to gain an early edge.

It would be an edge that the 11th maintained throughout the final set and serving for the match leading 5-4, he finally ended a fantastic encounter with one final forehand winner up the line.

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