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Tennis Canada Fan Gala 2018: Rivalry of the Year

Dec 11, 2018
written by: Tennis Canada
written by: Tennis Canada

As part of its 2018 Fan Gala, Tennis Canada wants you to vote for your most memorable Canadian highlights of the past season. Which moment was the most moving? Which rivalry was the fiercest? It’s up to you to decide! But remember, you only have until December 15th to weigh in.

In the Rivalry of the Year category, the nominees are:

1. Denis Shapovalov & Robin Haase

It’s pretty rare to face the same opponent three times in one season, much less within a five-month period!

In 2018, it happened to Denis Shapovalov and Robin Haase! At their first clash of the year on the Roman clay courts, our local hero defeated the Dutchman in three tight sets, 7-6(3), 6-7(5), 6-3.

Three months later, Haase was out for revenge in Toronto. In the third round of Rogers Cup, he got cheering fans out of their seats on the most electrifying points and ultimately ousted Shapovalov.

In September, as Canada took on the Netherlands in Davis Cup in Toronto, Denis set out to show Haase what he’s made of… and get a little revenge for his defeat one month earlier at Rogers Cup.

And did he ever! The Ontarian clawed his way back from a two-set deficit to claim the win 3-6, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 as the crowd went wild in an absolute flood of emotions!

Denis himself was pretty relieved to have secured Canada’s second victory and his own second triumph over Haase in 2018.

2. Vasek Pospisil & Marin Cilic

Vasek Pospisil and Marin Cilic’s two 2018 match-ups were epic!

Facing the World No.6, Vasek surprised fans when he pushed back against an opponent of Cilic’s pedigree. Despite a heartbreaking four-set loss 2-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-7(5), Pospisil never gave up against the eventual finalist and 2014 US Open champion.

The shot of the match? It just happened to also be the shot of the day at the Australian Open! Our homegrown talent’s amazing volley took the top honours.

Just two months later, Cilic got the better of Vasek again in two sets 7-5, 7-6(4) at the Masters 1000 event in Key Biscane, Florida.

If you thought the hot-shot in Australia was incredible, check out the magic that Vasek was able to come up with against Cilic this time around. Mind = blown!

3. Gaby Dabrowski & Barbora Strycova

And let’s not forget Gaby Dabrowski, our amazing doubles ace, who was up against Barbora Strycova four times this past season.

At their first two confrontations, Strycova and Safarova had to withdraw or retire, conceding victory to the Canadian and her partner. The next two encounters—a tight semi and a tough final—were a different story.

Despite the two losses, Gaby Dabrowski had a lot to celebrate ahead of the final in Beijing: she and longtime partner Yifan Xu had secured their spot in the doubles draw of the WTA Finals.

And we can’t think of anything better than kicking back as another season comes to an end!

4. Milos RaonicDenis Shapovalov

This year also saw impressive early battles between Canada’s top two ATP Tour stars. #ClashofCanadians

In Madrid, at the end of a highly anticipated third-round contest that definitely lived up to its billing, Denis claimed a straight-sets win over Raonic on clay, which would ultimately be the elder Canadian’s final match on the surface before returning for the grass season following an injury break.

The 6-4, 6-4 encounter was played tighter and at a higher quality than the scoreline might suggest, with Shapovalov firing on all cylinders as Raonic fought hard to keep up with the 19-year-old’s explosive style.

But Milos wasn’t about to let Denis have the last laugh of the season. In Cincinnati, he went all out and overpowered Shapovalov in the third round, claiming the match by a tight 7-6(6), 6-4 decision.

Still, our Canadian heroes have also managed to develop a formidable alliance. They battled together as Team Canada teammates at Davis Cup in September and paired up for doubles in Brisbane at the start of the season.

Denis and Milos or Denis versus Milos? Either way, we’re here for it and hope to see much more of these two sharing a court in the future.

So, who do you think had 2018’s best rivalry?

Vote and tune in tomorrow for more on the third category of our 2018 Tennis Canada Fan Gala

And don’t forget to check out Monday’s Fan Gala category, Match of the Year. There’s still time to vote!