Silence may have been Denis Shapovalov’s ally on Wednesday, as he overcame a challenge from local wildcard Stefano Travaglia in two tight sets to reach the third round at BNL Internazionali d’Italia.
Without a partisan crowd to back his opponent, Shapovalov managed to wear down the Italian, eventually emerging with a 7-6(2), 6-3 victory.
It was another day of service struggles for Shapovalov, who only put 45 percent of his first serves in play. Fortunately, the Canadian was ruthless when he did land one, winning 90 percent of his first serve points and never having his serve broken.
After an uneventful first eight games that easily went to the servers, Shapovalov dug himself into a 15-40 hole at 4-all with a series of errors but was bailed out when Travaglia sent backhands into the net on both break points.
The 13th seed’s best opportunity in the opening set came as Travaglia served to send the set to a tiebreak, going up love-30. Consecutive double faults from the Italian gave Shapovalov a set point, but he failed to put his return in play.
In the tiebreak, a friendly net cord put the wind to Shapovalov’s back, as the Canadian reeled off four straight points from 3-2 to take the breaker and the opening set in just under an hour.
Shapovalov carried that momentum into the second set, where he broke in the opening game for an early lead.
Despite struggling to put his first serve in play, the Canadian managed to hang on before bookending the set with another break to book his spot in the third round.
It was hardly a clean performance from Shapovalov, who committed 26 unforced errors to just 14 winners. However, he came up big when it mattered, saving all three of the break points he faced.
Travaglia only managed four winners in the match.
Shapovalov will be in tough in the third round, where he will meet the King of Clay himself Rafael Nadal, who ousted Shapovalov at this same stage in Rome in 2018 in straight sets.