Milos Raonic and Denis Shapovalov were both victorious in their second-round encounters at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships on Wednesday evening in Tokyo. Raonic continued to thrive in the quick indoor conditions, dispatching Japanese qualifier Yosuke Watanuki 6-3, 7-6(2), while Shapovalov recovered from a set down to notch a win over 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
SHAPO IS THROUGH! 🔥
— Tennis Canada (@TennisCanada) October 3, 2018
Fourth up in a stacked order of play on Centre Court in Tokyo, Raonic blasted ace after ace – 15 in total – past Watanuki, who was playing in just his second-ever ATP World Tour main draw. Raonic, a three-time Japan Open runner-up, was imperious on serve in the match, dropping just eight points on serve throughout. Remarkable winning percentages on both first serves (85%) and second serves (88%) allowed him claim victory in one hour and 24 minutes to reach the quarterfinals.
If he’s to contend in Sunday’s final for a fourth time, the Canadian will have to get past qualifier Daniil Medvedev in the quarterfinals. The unorthodox Russian dispatched St. Petersburg Open finalist Martin Klizan 6-4, 6-3.
Closing out Centre Court play for the day was Shapovalov, who, like Davis Cup teammate Raonic, has been thriving on the swift indoor surface of the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza – a temporary venue while the perennial Ariake Coliseum is being renovated for the 2020 Olympics.
Against Wawrinka, a sloppy service game early in the match immediately put the 19-year-old from Richmond Hill on the back foot. Unable to find the right returns when he needed them, Shapovalov surrendered the first set to the three-time Grand Slam champion.
Undeterred, however, Shapovalov would find the form that saw him upset No. 7 seed Hyeon Chung in the first round. With his forehand catching fire and his one-handed backhand holding up forcefully against Wawrinka’s own legendary one-hander, the Canadian levelled the match in a swift 6-1 second set.
Shapovalov was visited by the physio before the start of the third, apparently struggling with pain in his right knee. After a short massage and tape job, he returned to the court and – despite a slow start to the set – found an extra gear in the seventh game to earn a break of the Swiss’ serve. Shapovalov would miss out on three match points at 0-40 up in Wawrinka’s next service game (including a heartbreaking volley error at 30-40 reminiscent of the one missed in his defeat to Yoshihito Nishioka last week in Shenzhen), but managed to get himself over the finish line in the following game on a Wawrinka error.
The Canadian finished the match having conceded serve just once, striking 36 winners to 31 unforced errors in the nearly two-hour encounter. He’ll face either Jan-Lennard Struff or Jeremy Chardy in the quarterfinals.
(Feature photo: Getty Images)