In the first-ever meeting between Canada’s current top two players, youth got the better of experience.
Denis Shapovalov was the victor in a one hour, 22 minute clash of Canadians, defeating Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the Mutua Madrid Open. Shapovalov put on a masterclass performance, arguably his best of the year, hitting 28 winners to 17 unforced errors and winning 72% of service points.
Raonic, for his part, didn’t play a poor match. He put forth an impressive 76% of first serves and had a tidy stat sheet of 14 winners to 14 unforced errors. Not a lot of players can beat the Canadian No. 1 when he’s serving that consistently and playing that cleanly.
But today, Shapovalov could.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) May 10, 2018
Everything seemed to go the younger Canadian’s way today, from perfect placement on his meteoric groundstrokes, to serves that clipped the lines. He struck five aces and, at the net, he won six of seven points. But perhaps most impressively, he was able to get a read on the Raonic serve, breaking midway through both sets with some of his best tennis.
“This guy’s energy levels are infectious,” said commentator Robbie Koenig after Shapovalov pulled ahead to a 4-3 lead in the second set. Since his breakthrough run at Rogers Cup last summer, all eyes have been on the Richmond Hill native and his progress at the top levels of the sport – especially in Canada.
In today’s win over his countryman, he was able to justify all that buzz
“Definitely one of my best days on clay. To be on the court against such a legend for me, and for my country, it was an honour,” said Shapovalov after the match. “What he does for our country, for tennis, for these past couple years, it’s incredible. Like I said, to be on the court against him, it was great.
“He’s such a legend in our country,” added the 19-year-old. “He’s been dominating the sport in our country and in the world. I’ve always looked up to him. To beat a guy like that, like I said, it’s a huge confidence booster for me.”
Game, set and match: Denis Shapovalov! He defeats Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-4 to reach the #MMOPEN quarterfinals.
— Tennis Canada (@TennisCanada) May 10, 2018
For Raonic, the match was encouraging. By no means did he play poorly, and to have recovered from the injury that took him out of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters two weeks ago is a victory in itself. He’ll head to Rome for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia knowing that his body is healthy and his season is back on track.
Up next for Shapovalov on Friday in the quarterfinals is Kyle Edmund, who defeated both Novak Djokovic and David Goffin this week to reach the final eight. Shapovalov owns a 2-2 record against the No. 22-ranked Briton, having lost their most recent encounter in Brisbane, but claiming a win on grass last year in London and at the US Open in New York.
(Feature photo: Sky Sports Tennis)