#NextGenATP Shapovalov Stuns Nadal In Montreal
#NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov delivered the performance of his career on Thursday evening, stunning World No. 2 Rafael Nadal 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) in front of an electric Court Central crowd at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal.
Shapovalov becomes the youngest quarter-finalist at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament. He's also the second-youngest player to beat Nadal (Coric, 2014 Basel).
"It's so tough. A lot of the times he just hits a shot that's way too good. I was managing to get a lot back when I could. But, you know, he's honestly the best player I've ever played in my life," Shapovalov said.
"You could tell why he's won so many Grand Slams. His ball was just so heavy. He's such a warrior out there. So it's honestly, like a dream come true for me to beat a player like that."
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For the Spaniard, a return to No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings will have to wait. Nadal would have returned to No. 1 for the first time since June 2014 if he had reached the semi-finals in Montreal.
Shapovalov, No. 143 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, is projected to reach a new career high and crack the Top 100 at No. 100. On Friday, he will look to continue his dream run at his home Masters 1000 tournament when he faces Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, who dismissed #NextGenATP Korean Hyeon Chung 6-3, 6-3 to reach his first Masters 1000 quarter-final in his 31st attempt.
But this much is clear so far: Shapovalov brings an entirely different level of tennis to Masters 1000 events in his home country. The 18 year old has now knocked off three top ATP World Tour players in his home country during the past two years: Nick Kyrgios last year, Juan Martin del Potro earlier this week and Nadal became his latest upset victim in their marathon two-hour and 46-minute battle.
"It's a very fast pace right now. It's a lot to take in, obviously. But to be honest, I'm very thankful that I'm in this position," Shapovalov said. "If I didn't save those four match points in the first round [against Dutra Silva], there wouldn't even be a chance to play Juan Martin or Rafa. I'm very thankful for that."
With “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky and his wife in attendance, Shapovalov was ready from the start for another high-octane match in the Canadian metropolis. He fought to 3-3 with Nadal in the opening set, but the Spaniard sprinted through the remainder of the opener and looked as if he would need only two sets.
Shapovalov, though, came out strong in the second set, and had two chances to go up 5-1. But Nadal fought back and pushed the second set to 4-4 before Shapovalov recovered to even the third-round match.
On his first set point, the Canadian mishit a return that Nadal lifted long, and Shapovalov raised his arms to roars from his thousands of fans.
The Canadian had success exchanging forehands with Nadal and was fearless with his shot selection, taking every cheer as encouragement. For the match, the Canadian finished with 49 winners to 41 unforced errors. He delivered nine aces to only two from Nadal.
Shapovalov also dealt an effective 1-2 punch while returning, pushing Nadal to one corner before striking a one-handed backhand or forehand up the line.
But Nadal, a 30-time Masters 1000 titlist, dug in for the decider, as did Shapovalov. Serving at 1-1, the 18 year old erased three break points and held during a 14-minute and 30-second game, showing the Spaniard he was not going away in the final set. For the match, Shapovalov erased nine of 11 break points.
In the tie-break, it again looked as if Nadal would finally pull away. He jumped out to a 3/0 lead. But this time it was Shapovalov's turn to fight back, and he won seven of the tie-break's final eight points to earn the biggest win of his life. He blasted a forehand winner on his first match point.
After the ball sped past Nadal, Shapovalov tossed his racquet and fell to the court, covering his eyes in disbelief. The crowd's cheers soaked their new home favourite and, after he shook hands with Nadal, Shapovalov finished his celebration by saying thanks. He kissed the court and blew kisses to the crowd.
"I don't know if a lot of players fold or if he just outplays them at the end," Shapovalov said. "I was down 3-0 in the tie-break. I did a good job to regroup. I knew I had to win both the points off my serve. Yeah, then he gave me a double [fault] to tie it up.
"I just tried to stay calm, tried to play every point, go for my shots. At the end of the day I really tried to keep playing my game and stick to my tactics."
DID YOU KNOW?
At 18 years, 3 months, is the youngest quarter-finalist in ATP Masters 1000 history (since 1990)
Is the youngest quarter-finalist in Coupe Rogers tournament history since Bjorn Borg (18 years, 2 months) in 1974
Came in this week ranked No. 143 and he could break the Top 100 in the Emirates ATP Rankings next week (depending on other results)…At the moment he is projected to be No. 100. If he beats Adrian Mannarino to reach the SFs, he is projected to jump to around No. 66.
Is the lowest-ranked player to beat a Top 2 opponent since No. 144 Kyrgios beat No. 1 Nadal in 2014 Wimbledon fourth round.
Is the lowest-ranked player Nadal has lost to since No. 144 Kyrgios (Nadal ranked No. 1 at the time) in 2014 Wimbledon fourth round.
Is the youngest player to beat a Top 2 opponent since Filip Krajinovic, 18, beat No. 2 Djokovic (by retirement) in 2010 Belgrade QF. The previous instance in a COMPLETED MATCH was Nadal, 17, beating No. 1 Federer in 2004 ATP Masters 1000 Miami 3R