Shapovalov Reverses Fortunes Against Cilic
#NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov has already reached two ATP Masters 1000 semi-finals and based on his form thus far in Indian Wells, the 19-year-old appears to be a threat to make another deep run at a Masters 1000 event this week. Shapovalov ousted 10th seed Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-2 on Tuesday in just 78 minutes to reach the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open.
Less than five months ago, Cilic defeated Shapovalov in Basel by the same scoreline, doing so in only 76 minutes. But the Canadian got his revenge in the California desert, losing just three first-serve points (29/32) while breaking the Croat’s serve three times to win multiple matches in Indian Wells for the first time.
"[It's] a very happy day for me," Shapovalov said. "I think I came out firing, just went for it with nothing to lose."
On debut at this tournament in 2018, Shapovalov lost against Pablo Cuevas in straight sets in the second round. But the teenager has been nearly flawless on serve through two matches this year, saving the two break points he faced against Cilic. The 24th seed did not lose serve against World No. 38 Steve Johnson in the second round, either. Shapovalov has won 91 per cent (68/75) of his first-serve points heading into the fourth round.
While Shapovalov arrived in Indian Wells on a two-match losing streak, and with a 7-5 record in 2019, he arrived in California a week early to work on his game.
"I told my team after Europe, they told me to take a break, but I told them, 'I'll take two days max, but I don't feel like I need a break right now. I want to keep going, work on my game'," Shapovalov said. "There were a couple of things missing in my European swing that I focused on to clean up. It's really showing the past couple of matches here."
The Canadian remembered one practice in particular, with compatriot Milos Raonic, when his game began to click again.
"We both played really solid tennis. That was the first time I felt like, 'Okay, I'm starting to feel my game again. I'm starting to play some good points. The ball is sitting on my racquet'," Shapovalov recalled. "Ever since then, I have been able to play some really good tennis."
Shapovalov will try to make his third quarter-final of the season when he faces 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Hubert Hurkacz. The Pole defeated sixth seed Kei Nishikori in three sets to continue his deepest run at a Masters 1000 event.