Shapovalov Beats del Potro To Delight Montreal Crowd
Teenager to meet Nadal or Coric in third round
Canadian wild card Denis Shapovalov recorded one of the biggest wins of his fledgling career on Wednesday at the Coupe Rogers.
The 18-year-old #NextGenATP knocked out former World No. 4 Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 7-6(4) to become the youngest player in the last 16 of an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament since Rafael Nadal, 17, at the 2004 Miami Open presented by Itau.
"He's my idol," Shapovalov said of Del Potro. "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 and a huge confidence boost... It's got to be one of my best wins. Has to be.
"He's got massive weapons. But I felt like I was returning really well today. When I could get my racquet on it, I was putting a lot of them back. I think that put a little bit of pressure on him in the end. To break him at 5-all, he served a double fault. In the tie-break, I was getting a lot of serves back and he shanked a couple forehands. I think I did a good job of that."
The result means that Shapovalov moves up from No. 11 to No. 9 in the Emirates ATP Race To Milan, vying for one of the seven coveted places at the 21-and-under Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held from 7-11 November. Learn More & Buy Tickets
Shapovalov was handed a 6-5 lead in the second set, when del Potro struck a double fault, but his Argentinean opponent immediately regrouped by forcing three errors and went on to lead 3/1 in the tie-break. Shapovalov capitalised on del Potro’s lack of forehand potency to win five straight points. He closed out his second tour-level match win of 2017 with a forehand volley winner much to the delight of ice hockey great Wayne Gretzky, who watched the one-hour and 44-minute encounter unfold.
"I've never played in an atmosphere like this. It was so loud. On match point, when I hit that double, right before it, I mean, my ears almost popped. They were cheering so loud, it was insane.
"It's just so much fun to be out there, to be part of this atmosphere. I feel very privileged to be a part of this tournament."
World No. 143 Shapovalov whose goal is to break into the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings by the end of the year, has won two ATP Challenge Tour titles in Canada this season at Drummondville and Gatineau.