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Shapovalov wins to open title defense at Stockholm Open

TENNIS: OCT 29 St. Petersburg Open

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 29: Denis Shapovalov reacts during ATP International tennis tournament St. Petersburg Open on October 29, 2021, at Sibur Arena in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Anatoliy Medved/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

STOCKHOLM -- Denis Shapovalov finally got to launch the defense of his Stockholm Open title from 2019, beating qualifier Andrea Vavassori 7-6 (1), 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals.

The 22-year-old Canadian has had to wait two years to defend the only ATP title he has won in his short career, with the 2020 edition canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It felt amazing to be back here,” the third-seeded Shapovalov said after breaking Vavassori’s serve three times in the last 16.

Shapovalov, ranked No. 18, will next play Arthur Rinderknech after the Frenchman’s 6-4, 6-1 win over Jozef Kovalik. Rinderknech had advanced to the last 16 after his first-round opponent, sixth-seeded Alexander Bublik, retired with an injury.

Fourth-seeded Dan Evans and eighth-seeded Frances Tiafoe also advanced in straight sets and will meet in the quarterfinals.

Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray plays top-seeded Jannik Sinner in the headline match of the last 16 later.