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.
What a talent. What a win. What a night.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) August 11, 2017
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: "it's my worst loss of the year because it's my loss to the opponent with the lowest ranking & because I had chance to be No. 1."
— Ricky Dimon (@Dimonator) August 11, 2017
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.
— ATP Media Info (@ATPMediaInfo) August 11, 2017
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.
— John Horn (@SportsHorn) August 11, 2017
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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