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Denis denies Cilic to reach round of 16

Mar 12, 2019
written by: Tennis Canada
written by: Tennis Canada

It’s so easy to forget that Denis Shapovalov is just 19-years-old when he puts in performances as mature as this one against Marin Cilic. The Canadian, ranked 25th in the world – that’s 14 places behind his Croatian counterpart – waltzed to a 6-4, 6-2 victory at Indian Wells’ Stadium 3 to surge into the last-16.

Up next for the Richmond Hill-native is Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, ranked 67th, who pulled off a shock to beat sixth-seed Kei Nishikori 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 earlier in the day having overcome 28th-seed Lucas Pouille in the previous round.

The early exchanges between Shapovalov and Cilic were fairly routine as they each held their serve twice to begin the match. In the fifth, it looked as if the Croatian was about to serve out another uneventful game, but Shapovalov had other ideas – coming from 40:15 down to craft a crucial break. From there, the Canadian didn’t let up and went on to claim the first set 6-4.

Almost a mirror-image of the first, the second set was all square until the fifth game, when Shapovalov played himself into another situation to take control. Cilic, struggling to match the Canadian’s intensity, just about managed to hold off the 19-year-old on the first break point but couldn’t do so on the second, dropping his serve to give Shapovalov the edge.

The very next game saw Cilic threaten to strike back, but the Canadian refused to open the door to the Croatian, denying him on two break point opportunities. That seemed to deflate the 30-year-old, who immediately dropped another of his service games, handing Shapovalov a 5-2 lead and the chance to serve out the match – which the youngster did emphatically to seal an impressive victory.

Meanwhile, fellow Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski qualified for the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open’s women’s doubles, alongside partner Yifan Xu. The number five-seed pairing saw off Raluca Olaru and Darija Jurak in straight sets 6-3, 6-2 on Tuesday afternoon as they continued their impressive form so far this season. They will now face sisters Leticia Chan and Angel Chan in the last four with a place in the final on the line.

(Feature photo: Michael Cummo/BNP Paribas Open)