Against all odds, 18-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov has found his way into the semifinals of Rogers Cup presented by National Bank.
Drawing on the reserves that we thought were depleted after his win against Rafael Nadal, Shapovalov got off to a slow start to eventually rout world no.42 Adrian Mannarino of France in three sets (2-6, 6-3, 6-4).
Not only was it both players’ first appearance in a Masters 1000 quarterfinal but Shapovalov became the youngest player in the history of the series, which dates back to 1990, to reach the stage. His presence in the final four also garnered him other age-related records.
Dominated in the erratic first set, the teenager let his opponent take over. He committed a string of unusual errors and was unable to find a break.
At 3-2 in the second set, a short rain delay seemed to give him the energy he had been missing. He won the next four games and the last set, breaking his rival at 4-4 to bring the battle to end.
Despite his low first-serve percentage (51%), seven double faults and total of 87 points versus 88 for his rival, Shapovalov was able to make the important points. He capitalized on three of five break points and fought off the 11 break points he faced. When power and consistency collided, the ability to find the advantage and hit winners made all the difference.
When the new ATP rankings are released on Monday, Shapovalov should be around no.66—an extraordinary ascent, to say the least.