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Raonic, Shapovalov reach Tokyo quarterfinals

Oct 03, 2018
written by: Tennis Canada
written by: Tennis Canada

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.

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.

Photo: Getty Images

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)