Radu Albot
Credits: Twitter @atptour

30-year old Radu Albot ended Denis Shapovalov’s dream of finishing the season inside the Top 10 of the year-end ATP Rankings on Tuesday, eliminating the top seed 6-2, 6-4 in the second round of the Sofia Open. The Moldovan star lost his first seven tour-level matches of the season. But he has come on strong in the past month. By upsetting Shapovalov, Albot advances to his second ATP Tour quarter-final of the year.

Canadian and top seed is one of the world’s best shotmakers, and a leaping backhand he crushed in the first set for a winner proved that. But Shapovalov struggled to find consistency on the Bulgarian hard court, making uncharacteristic errors.

Albot did well to avoid giving the Canadian many free points. He forced the World No. 12 to earn everything in the match, which he was unable to do often enough. Albot won 86 per cent of his first-serve points (31/36) and saved the two break points he faced. Next up for the World No. 93 will be fifth seed Adrian Mannarino or Belarusian Egor Gerasimov.

Shapovalov was the top seed at an ATP Tour event for the first time, and he was trying to reach his sixth quarter-final of the season. On 21 September, he cracked the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time.

Interestingly, this was Albot’s first victory against a Top 20 opponent since the 2019 Western & Southern Open, where he defeated then-World No. 18 Marin Cilic.