The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - BILL BEA­CON

MONTREAL — De­nis Shapo­valov’s coach wasn’t sur­prised that the teenager was able to keep his head while up­set­ting a ten­nis leg­end on cen­tre court at the Rogers Cup ten­nis tour­na­ment.

Martin Lau­ren­deau said Fri­day that he saw it a year ago when Shapo­valov beat Aus­tralian star Nick Kyr­gios in the Rogers Cup first round in Toronto and the 18-yearold’s cool head was ev­i­dent again this week with wins over 2009 U.S. Open cham­pion Juan Martin del Potro and for­mer world No. 1 Rafael Nadal.

“All the guys he’s played up to, he takes it to them,” said Lau­ren­deau, who coaches Shapo­valov and serves as Canada’s Davis Cup cap­tain. “He rev­els in that kind of at­mos­phere. He’s like a fish in wa­ter when you put him on a big court against a big player.

“I don’t know if you can teach that, but he has that and he’s mak­ing the most of it.”

Shapo­valov, of Rich­mond Hill, Ont., posted one of the big­gest wins in Cana­dian ten­nis his­tory when he bat­tled Nadal for two hours 45 min­utes on Thurs­day night and pulled out the vic­tory in a third-set tiebreaker.

He fol­lowed that up Fri­day night by ad­vanc­ing to the tour­na­ment’s semi­fi­nals with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 vic­tory over France’s Adrian Man­nar­ino.

The Nadal match was a backand-forth af­fair, with sev­eral break points saved on both sides. Shapo­valov fell be­hind 3-0 in the tiebreaker, but a Nadal dou­ble fault and two aces gave the young­ster the match.

At no time did the left-han­der show any sign of crack­ing un­der the pres­sure. In­stead, he fed off the

deaf­en­ing sound from the sell­out crowd of 11,000 that cheered ev­ery point he won.

“It’s a bit sur­real to be able to, start to fin­ish, last that long, pro­duce qual­ity ten­nis and go toe-to­toe with a leg­end like that,” said Lau­ren­deau. “It’s just re­mark­able.

“I’m glad I was there to wit­ness it.

I’ll re­mem­ber it for a long time. It will cer­tainly be a ref­er­ence for him be­cause he still has a lot of steps to go through. That’s al­ways go­ing to be there for him, what he’s able to do. Just con­tinue to work to­wards his goal, which is be­ing top 100, top 50, top 10 and, one day, con­tend for a Grand Slam.”

Even 19-time grand slam win­ner Roger Federer of Switzer­land was im­pressed watch­ing Shapo­valov on tele­vi­sion at his ho­tel.

“I thought it was a fan­tas­tic match,” said Federer.

“It was ex­hil­a­rat­ing for the crowd, for the fans watch­ing on TV, for Cana­dian ten­nis,” he added.

“I didn’t ex­pect it to be this way. I thought that Rafa was go­ing to win in straights,” Federer said.

“De­nis did a great job. I’m re­ally happy for him. Rafa was all class. He was great. It was a good night for ten­nis in some ways.”

It helped that Shapo­valov had noth­ing to lose and could try risky shots, but so far, that seems to be part of the young­ster’s suc­cess.

The su­per­star Federer first no­ticed it while watch­ing the Cana­dian win the ju­nior Wim­ble­don ti­tle in 2016.

“He was in all sorts of trou­ble,” said Federer.

“He kept go­ing for the big­gest shots: fore­hands, back­hands and serves.”


De­nis Shapo­valov of Canada cel­e­brates af­ter de­feat­ing Adrian Man­nar­ino of France, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, in quar­ter-fi­nal play at the Rogers Cup ten­nis tour­na­ment Fri­day night in Montreal. He will play the win­ner of Fri­day’s late match be­tween fourth-seeded Alexan­der Zverev of Ger­many and Kevin An­der­son of South Africa in the semi­fi­nals.

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