Idol Idled

Partly cloudy

Ottawa Sun - - SPORTS - — with files from Cana­dian Press ph­ickey@postmedia.com @zababes1

MON­TREAL — De­nis Shapo­valov had a chance to meet one of his idols Wed­nes­day and he made some his­tory along the way.

The 18-year-old from Rich­mond Hill, Ont., de­feated 2009 U.S. Open cham­pion Juan Martin del Potro of Ar­gentina 6-3, 7-6 (4) to reach the round of 16 at the Rogers Cup Cana­dian Open men’s ten­nis cham­pi­onships.

“Like I said yes­ter­day, he’s my idol,” Shapo­valov said. “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 for me — a huge con­fi­dence boost.”

The win lifted Shapo­valov into some rar­efied com­pany. He’s the youngest player to reach the third round of this event since Mats Wi­lan­der in 1982. And he’s the youngest player to reach the fi­nal 16 of an ATP Masters 1000 event since Rafael Nadal in Mi­ami in 2004.

There’s a cer­tain syn­chronic­ity in that stat be­cause Shapo­valov’s next op­po­nent is the win­ner of a Wed­nes­day night match be­tween the top-seeded Nadal and Croa­t­ian Borna Coric.

Shapo­valov showed poise be­yond his years. When del Potro broke his serve to take a 2-0 lead in the sec­ond set, Shapo­valov broke right back.

The Cana­dian broke del Potro to take a 6-5 lead and was serv­ing for the match in the sec­ond set, but he had a dou­ble-fault and played some loose points to send the set to a tiebreaker. He fell be­hind 3-1 in the tiebreaker, but reeled off five con­sec­u­tive points for a 6-3 lead.

On his first match point, he De­nis Shapo­valov keeps his eye on the ball dur­ing his win over Juan Martin del Potro yes­ter­day at the Rogers Cup in Mon­treal. dou­ble-faulted, but he didn’t al­low the point to up­set him.

“It was just bad luck,” Shapo­valov said. “I hit the tape twice and both serves went out. I told my­self for the next point, just put a lit­tle bit more spin on the serve, make sure you get the first serve in. I was hop­ing for a shorter re­turn, which I got.”

Peter Polan­sky wasn’t as for­tu­nate in a match against one of his idols. Sec­ond-seeded Roger Fed­erer needed only 53 min­utes to beat the 29-yearold Toron­to­nian 6-2, 6-1.

“He plays very quickly,” Polan­sky said. “I like to de­velop the points, but he plays so quick and that threw me off a lit­tle. You can’t ad­just for just one match. Maybe if I was ex­posed a lit­tle more to play­ing at the higher lev­els, I’d be more com­fort­able. Go­ing from play­ing play­ers ranked 50 to 150 and then go­ing against Fed­erer, it’s dif­fer­ent.

“His tran­si­tion from the base­line to the net, it’s a joke,” Polan­sky said. “You blink and he’s at the net. You hit balls pretty hard at him and he’s han­dling them likes it’s no prob­lem. Guys I’m used to play­ing, if I hit re­ally hard, they’ll kind of block it, but he’s con­stantly mov­ing for­ward like a freight train.”

Polan­sky said he’s not a bad ten­nis player, but he’s also not in the same league as Fed­erer.

“Even though I lost, this is one of the most mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ences of my life along with the match I played against him in Toronto,” said Polan­sky, who won only two games when they played at the 2014 Rogers Cup.

“I felt I wasn’t get­ting up with my legs, but he was also putting pres­sure on me,” Polan­sky said. “He was stand­ing on the base­line and maybe I thought I had to put some pres­sure on him and I tried to do too much.”

Three seeded play­ers lost in the af­ter­noon. South African Kevin An­der­son de­feated 11th-seeded Pablo Car­reno Busta 6-3, 7-6 (6); Gael Mon­fils out­lasted No. 5 Kei Nishikori 6-7 (4), 7-5, 7-6 (6) and David Fer­rer will meet Fed­erer af­ter beat­ing 15th-seeded Jack Sock 7-6 (7), 3-6, 6-1.

SN, SN1, 11 a.m.; SN1, 6:30 p.m., SN360, 7 p.m.

ON TV:

A wrist in­jury had Canada’s top-ranked player, sixth­seeded Mi­los Raonic, badly off his game as he fell 6-4, 6-4 to Adrian Man­nar­ino of France. The heavy-serv­ing Raonic, also from Thorn­hill, did not get an ace un­til 4-4 in the sec­ond set, but lost his serve in the same game.

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