It’s game on for Milos Raonic and Denis Shapovalov for the second time this year.
On Wednesday afternoon, Milos Raonic defeated Lucky Loser Malek Jaziri in the second round of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, registering a 6-3, 7-5 victory over the Tunisian to book another #ClashofCanadians showdown with compatriot Shapovalov.
Last night, just past midnight, Shapovalov got past British rival Kyle Edmund in a tight two-setter, missing out on five match points before finally claiming the match by a similar scoreline to Raonic’s today: 6-4, 7-5.
Both players, who hail from the Greater Toronto Area, had ups and downs in their matches, but were able to get past their opponents by elevating their games at the right moments. For 19-year-old Shapovalov, his match with Edmund appeared to be going along smoothly as he opened up a set and 4-0 lead, but let his opponent back in with a streak of inconsistent play. However, the Canadian was able to come up with the goods when it came down to crunch time, pressuring the Briton’s extreme forehand into errors and sealing the win with a final crisp volley at the net.
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No. 1-ranked Canadian Raonic’s serve was at its signature best in his secound-round win in Cincinnati. He was able to win 80% of service points, which included 20 aces and 33/34 points off his first serve. Jaziri, who took Rafael Nadal’s spot in the second round following the World No. 1’s withdrawal from the tournament, had few answers to the Raonic serve, but managed to hold on to his own quite comfortably until the Canadian struck a few sweet return winners to secure the break late in the second set.
Shapovalov prevailed against Raonic 6-4, 6-4 on the speedy clay courts of the Mutua Madrid Open earlier this season. One match later, he secured his place as Canadian No. 1. He was unable to defend his semifinal points from Rogers Cup last year, however, seeing his ranking slide down to just behind Raonic.
With valuable ranking points on the line, only one of these two will come out on top to reach the quarterfinals. Will it be former Cincy semifinalist Milos Raonic? Or will it be Denis Shapovalov, who is playing in Cincinnati for the first time?