Denis Shapovalov the lone Canadian left standing at Rogers Cup
The 18-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., took a step in that direction Wednesday when he defeated his idol, 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina 6-3, 7-6 (4) to reach the Round of 16 at the Rogers Cup Canadian Open men’s tennis championships.
Shapovalov finished the day as the lone surviving Canadian, as sixth-seeded Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., turned in an uninspired performance in a 6-4, 6-4 loss to Adrian Mannarino of France. After the match, Raonic said he is suffering from a left wrist injury.
Shapovalov will be a decided underdog when he meets top-seeded Rafael Nadal, who cruised past Croatian Borna Coric 6-1, 6-2. Even if he loses Thursday evening, Shapovalov will come out of this week with a career-high ranking in the 125 range.
“Like I said yesterday, he’s my idol,” Shapovalov said after he became the youngest Canadian to reach the third round in this tournament. “First of all, just to play against him, it’s a huge honour for me. But to beat a player of this category, of this talent, it’s very inspiring for me, a huge confidence boost.”
Shapovalov showed poise beyond his years. When del Potro broke his serve to take a 2-0 lead in the second set, Shapovalov broke right back.
The Canadian broke del Potro to take a 6-5 lead in the second set and was serving for the match, but he had a double-fault and played some loose points to allow del Potro to break right back. He then fell behind 3-1 in the tiebreaker, but reeled off five consecutive points for a 6-3 lead.
On his first match point, he double-faulted, but he didn’t allow the point to upset him.