Could it happen again?
A year ago it was a breakout run of epic proportions for Denis Shapovalov at Rogers Cup presented by National Bank in Montreal. And this year the stars feel to be aligning once again for the free-swinging left-hander from just down the road.
Wednesday the 19 year old followed up his opening round win with an impressive feat, besting No.14 seed Fabio Fognini 6-3, 7-5 (and winning seven of the final eight games) to set up a meeting with tour veteran Robin Haase.
It’s an opportunity to go deep at home once again for Shapovalov in the portion of the draw that did include Juan Martin Del Potro before the Argentinian seeded No.3 pulled out Wednesday with a bum wrist.
While Shapovalov opens the night session on Thursday, it will be world No.1 Rafael Nadal who is set to follow him in a blockbuster match-up with fellow major champion Stan Wawrinka. The two are meant to take the court not before 8pm.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) August 8, 2018
Thursday is the day when the tournament officially switches into business gear, as the quarter-finalists will be chosen ahead of championship weekend. The scheduled matches suggest a day full of tennis riches, Shapovalov and Nadal-Wawrinka the evening cherry on top of what is a daytime sundae.
No.5 seed Grigor Dimitrov opens the day on Centre Court against young American Frances Tiafoe. Tiafoe, just 21, had an explosive win over Milos Raonis on Wednesday afternoon and looks to build on what he describes as blossoming confidence.
That match is set to be followed by four-time Rogers Cup champion Novak Djokovic meeting one of the truly dangerous and rising stars of the ATP World Tour in 19-year-old Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas. The two are taking to the court against one another for the very first time.
On Grandstand, No.4 seed Kevin Anderson – the Wimbledon runner-up to Djokovic – plays Ilya Ivashka – while No.8 John Isner meets fellow big man Karen Khachanov in the final match of the day on that court.
On Court 1, No.6 seed Marin Cilic has a feisty challenger in Diego Schwartzman, the baseliner from Argentina who is ranked near a career high at No.12 in the world.
Meanwhile, Alexander Zverev is the No.2 seed and back to defend his title after winning last year in Montreal. He will play in a late-afternoon tussle against Daniil Medvedev, a young Russian who broke Canadian hearts late Wednesday night with a third-set tiebreak win over birthday boy Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Zverev owns all three of their previous encounters, though their most recent meeting in Miami this March went to a third-set tiebreak, as well.
Additionally, there is a whole host of doubles on Thursday, as top seeds Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic meet Dimitrov and his partner David Goffin. Anderson and Djokovic continue their work as a team, too, and have a tough ask in No.3 seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, champions here a year ago.
While all eyes will be on Shapovalov Thursday night, it will also be an opportunity for Wawrinka against Nadal, as the Swiss player having fought his way through two extended three-set matches to earn his spot in round three, first against Nick Kyrgios and then Marton Fucsovics.
An all-major winner match to close out what is already a stellar day? It’s a fitting finish.