Shapovalov thrills fans with Nadal upset in Montreal

Published by Matt Trollope

Denis Shapovalov embraced the occasion in a three-set upset win over No.1 seed Rafael Nadal in Montreal's Coupe Rogers third round; Getty Images
Canadian wildcard Denis Shapovalov, just 18 years of age, lit up Uniprix Stadium in Montreal with a stunning three-set win over No.1 seed Rafael Nadal in the third round.

After beating Juan Martin del Potro in the second round of Montreal, the 18-year-old declared: “It’s got to be one of my best wins. Has to be.”

His latest was even bigger.

The Canadian wildcard stunning No.1 seed Rafael Nadal 3-6 6-4 7-6(4) on a packed Uniprix Stadium under light, which roared when he smacked a forehand winner – his 33rd of the match from that wing – to complete an unlikely triumph.

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The win denies Nadal the No.1 ranking for another week – the Spaniard needed to reach the semifinals to take over top spot from Andy Murray.

It was an sensationally assured performance from the inexperienced left-hander, who was a Wimbledon junior champion in 2016.

Shapovalov struck 49 winners to Nadal’s 18 in an audacious display and kept his enforced errors to 41, compared with Nadal’s 29.

Nadal will rue six break point opportunities in the final set – none of which he converted – and the fact he blew a 3-0 lead in the final tiebreak before losing seven of the next eight points.

A double fault at 3-2 – his sixth of the match – felt like a crucial momentum swing.

Nadal has now lost his last four final-set tiebreaks; in 2016 he fell to Lucas Pouille at the US Open, Juan Martin del Potro at the Rio Olympics and Dominic Thiem in Buenos Aires in the same circumstance.

After losing the final three games of the first set, Shapovalov responded impressively with an early break in the second to open a 3-0 lead.

He handed it back to Nadal in the seventh game but scored another service break to send the match into a decisive set.

Shapovalov goes on to face Adrian Mannarino after the Frenchman beat Hyeon Chung 6-3 6-3 to reach his first ATP Masters quarterfinal.

The Canadian’s chances appeared to hinge on a titantic third game that extended 10 deuces and 15 minutes. Had he dropped serve at that juncture, it seemed the more experienced Nadal would have run away with the match.

But embracing the crowd support and continuing to go for his shots, Shapovalov survived that test to lead 2-1 and kept his nose in front – despite facing two more break points in the fifth game – for the rest of the set.

“It’s what I dreamed of all my life growing up, playing guys like Rafa (Nadal), Roger (Federer), Andy (Murray),” Shapovalov said. “You know, my dream came true today.”

Added Nadal: “He played well. He has a great potential. I wish him the best. He has everything to become a great player. He played with the right determination in the important moments.”

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