ATP tour debutant downs Denis Shapovalov to make strong statement
Czech qualifier Jirí Lehečka ousted world number 12 and Australian Open quarter-finalist Denis Shapovalov to register his first ATP tour win on debut in Rotterdam.
The 20-year-old world number 137 took to the centre court like a duck to water as he showed aggressive play in overcoming his Canadian opponent 6-4, 6-4 to register a slew of firsts.
After defeating Jesper De Jong and 106th ranked Cornetin Moutet in qualifiyng, Lehečka is making his debut in the main draw of an ATP tour event.
He made his Slam main draw debut at the Australian Open last month, coming through qualifying before losing to world number 28 Grigor Dimitrov in the first round.
In fact, that was one of only six times Lehečka had even played against a played ranked within the ATP top 100 prior to taking on Shapovalov ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.
Two of those occasions came against Cameron Norrie and Robin Haase in the 2021 and 2019 Davis Cup respectively.
The others were all at ATP Challenger level against Tallon Griekspoor, Richard Gasquet, Stefano Travaglia and Federcio Coria, all of whom were ranked outside the top 70 during these encounters.
Of his seven battles against top 100 opponents prior to Rotterdam, Lehečka had won two, against Travaglia and Coria, the latter being his best win in terms of ranking of opponent with Coria ranked 94th at the time.
By downing Shapovalov, the young Czech claims not just a first ATP tour main draw win, but also a first ATP top 50 win, a first ATP top 20 victory too.
Finally, in 2021, Lehečka came ninth in the ‘ATP Race to Milan’, the ranking points race to qualify for the Next Gen Finals.
This made him first alternate for the event and he did not play, but he is eligible to play the event this year should he come among the top under-21 players.
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