The Dream Continues: Shapovalov Makes Montreal SFs
The dream lives. #NextGenATP Denis Shapovalov continued the run of his life on Friday night, overcoming a slow and nervy start to advance to the semi-finals of the Coupe Rogers in Montreal.
The 18-year-old Canadian beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Court Central, where Shapovalov has earned legions of supporters this week at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament.
He first knocked off Juan Martin del Potro, then World No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the third round, and Mannarino was the latest established ATP veteran to go down against the spirited left-hander, who's fiery play has created an electric atmosphere on the main court.
“I’ve been against the wall a couple times this week. I'm very happy I've come out several times just playing really good tennis in those situations," Shapovalov said. "I think it really shows how I've improved mentally along with just finding my game at the right moments."
Shapovalov, No. 143 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, was already projected to break the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings at No. 100. But he's now expected to jump to No. 67.
His semi-final run will also help him surge to fourth place in the Emirates ATP Race to Milan, which will determine seven of the eight 21-and-under players who compete at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. The eighth player will be determined by wild card.
Shapovalov continues to make Masters 1000 history as well. He became the youngest player to reach a Masters 1000 quarter-final (since 1990), and he'll try to do the unthinkable before this week and advance to the Coupe Rogers final. He'll face either South African Kevin Anderson or #NextGenATP German Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals.
Shapovalov, who is staying this week at the home of 17-year-old countryman Felix Auger-Aliassime, said that he had endured a head-spinning ride since his win over Nadal. Asked to recount the timeline immediately after his win over the World No. 2, he said: “After media, I can't even remember. Well, I got a massage, worked with my physio and stuff. I went home, saw Felix. Everyone was waiting up. Nobody could sleep. We chatted in the living room for a couple minutes. Tried to head to sleep around 1 a.m. Didn't sleep until 3. Tried to put the phone down and go to bed. But it was just like a little bit of a struggle.
“I think I slept until 10 or 11, so I got some pretty good sleep. We decided just to take it easy today since I was cramping a little bit yesterday. It was just a draining match. So we took it easy. I slept in. Had breakfast pretty late. Came here, had some lunch. Took another nap for an hour or so. I got my rest in. Then I had a light hit. I felt a little bit heavy on the legs, but I felt pretty good. Then just got ready for the match.”
Perhaps it was the late finish from his riveting upset against Nadal or nerves from his first Masters 1000 quarter-final, but either way, Shapovalov started slowly against Mannarino, who was also looking to make his first Masters 1000 semi-final.
The Canadian struggled to stay in rallies against the Frenchman, and Mannarino took advantage, breaking the teen twice and cruising to a one-set lead. Shapovalov hit 19 unforced errors, compared to 12 winners, in the first set.
He settled in during the second set, though. After a brief rain delay, the Canadian broke immediately for 4-2, helped by a Mannarino double fault. He sealed the set on serve and encouraged the crowd, as he's done all this week, lifting his arms to elicit their praise.
"I started off pretty slow. Just drained from yesterday," Shapovalov said. "Rafa took a lot out of me. But Adrian did a good job of playing fast with me in the first set, really taking it to me… Obviously the rain delay helped me. I kind of told myself ‘This could be a really good turning point. It's giving him a little bit of time to think about his game.' He got a little bit cold. It's always tough to come out and serve after having 11, 12 minutes off. I took advantage there. After I broke him, I kind of felt confidence again, and I ran with it.”
In the third set, Mannarino recovered from an early break, but the Canadian showed fearlessness in the big moments. He broke Mannarino for a 5-4 advantage when the Frenchman netted a forehand. The 18 year old clinched the quarter-final with a body serve that Mannarino struck wide.