MONTREAL-Maybe this is destiny.
The lanky wild card kissed the Montreal court after completing a rousing 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) triumph as the 18-year-old continued his giant killing form at the hardcourt tournament to become the youngest player to ever reach the quarter-finals of an ATP Masters 1000 event. “I grew up watching Rafa so just to be able to compete with him is one thing but to come out winning is a dream come true for me”. He then defeated former US Open victor Juan Martin Del Potro in the second round in straight sets 6-3 7-6 (7/4) to set up the showdown with Nadal.
Zverev wins in straight sets.
Shapovalov’s win came less than 24 hours after a historic upset of first seeded Rafael Nadal.
The Swiss world number three, 36, came from a set behind to beat the Spaniard 4-6 6-4 6-2 and next faces Roberto Bautista Agut, also of Spain, who defeated Frenchman Gael Monfils 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (6-2).
“I’ve been against the wall a couple times this week and I’m very happy I’ve come out several times just playing really good tennis in those situations”, said Shapovalov. Obviously the rain delay helped me.
Call it luck, or divine intervention, but that pause, at 2-2 in the second set, changed the complexion of the match entirely.
“I went up a break in the second set early and even though he broke me back I felt like – OK, I am capable of breaking him”. I felt a little bit rushed. “He played with the right determination in the important moments”.
The 18-year-old left-hander, now from Richmond Hill, Ontario beat France’s Adrian Mannarino 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 and will face fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany on Saturday.
Shapovalov said he didn’t think he had a chance to win at all before the match. He attempted to ease the pressure on his player when he met with the media on Friday morning.
It was a quieter match against 42nd-ranked Mannarino than the roaring victory over Nadal, but it proved just as hard.
The kid struggled against the Frenchman’s counterpunching style.
“He won. It is an awesome for him”. Impatience-and his imprecision-got the best of him.
But once again Shapovalov summoned something magical to dig his way out of the hole.
He broke service for a 2-1 lead in the third set Friday only to hand it back in the next game, but a roar went up when Mannarino wasted a chance to put away a game point and Shapovalov jumped on the chance to break for a 5-4 lead. “I believe it’s because I was more aggressive coming to the net”.
But at 4-4, with Mannarino serving, Shapovalov returned to the well, won some gruellingly long rallies with the groundstrokes that have carried him to this point, earned two break points, and never looked back.
But if destiny has something to say about it, the kid who’s moved up to No. 66 in the ATP rankings will have his crack at becoming the first Canadian champion at this event since 1958.
He served out the match easily.