Shapovalov stuns Nadal
Originally published on 11/08/17 00:00
The 18-year-old had shown fleeting glimpses of his outstanding talent throughout the last 12 months but his game reached new heights in Montreal this evening.
The youngster wowed the capacity crowd on Court Central with his ferocious groundstrokes as he bulldozed his way past a 15-time Grand Slam champion.
It's the biggest triumph of the Canadian's fledging career and he has a real opportunity to progress even further. His next opponent, Adrian Mannarino, is also a last eight debutant after overcoming Hyeon Chung 6-3 6-3.
Nadal claimed the opener by six games to three but he was soon embroiled in a baseline war as the daring Canadian blasted his way back into contention. Roared on by a passionate home crowd, the youngster embraced the challenge and his attacking arsenal earned him a third set.
The decider was fraught with tension and Nadal looked uneasy as he attempted to tame his rival’s searing forehand. The 31-year-old was forced to withstand significant punishment but he remained resolute and tried to force a breakthrough.
Shapovalov revels on the big stage but it was hard to not assume that his inexperience would eventually cost him in the latter stages. Time and again, though, he dealt with adversity like an established veteran and he refused to let Nadal drift over the horizon.
The Canadian saved a total of six break-points in the third set as he took the match the full distance. Nadal eased into a 3-0 lead in the shootout but he could not shake off his gritty rival and was soon feeling the pressure.
Uncharacteristic errors entered the Spaniard's game and Shapovalov pounced. The teenager cracked his forehand with unerring accuracy as he finished an unforgettable contest with a flurry of winners.
The teenager has ended Nadal’s hopes of becoming world No.1 for at least another week, but he will still want more glory from his dream week on home-soil.