No matter what your nickname for this kid may be (Shapo, El Shapo, Denis the Menace, just to name a few), the tennis world can all agree on one thing – Denis Shapovalov is the real deal.
Think back 12 months ago when Shapovalov won the boys’ title at Wimbledon and sent shock waves through the tennis world when he upset Nick Kyrgios in the first round of Rogers Cup. A lot has happened seemingly overnight for the 18-year-old, most notably his semi-final run at Coupe Rogers with wins over Juan Martin del Potro and Rafa Nadal.
In his primetime debut on Arthur Ashe Stadium against no. 8 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Shapovalov proved his results are not a fluke.
From Canada … pic.twitter.com/vqc1njr7TV
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) August 31, 2017
In the world’s largest tennis stadium, Shapovalov upset Tsonga 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(3) in two hours, 11 minutes. The teenager simply overpowered the 32-year-old French veteran, blasting 28 winners and pressuring Tsonga into hitting 30 unforced errors.
The whole country rallied behind Shapovalov, including Milos Raonic who was forced to withdraw from the US Open due to a left wrist injury.
Milos Raonic keeping a close eye on Shapovalov's match. Posted this to Instagram: pic.twitter.com/NXOJBdWogG
— Caroline Cameron (@SNCaroline) August 31, 2017
Fans took to social media to express their amazement, as well. While ESPN was labeling Denis as a player for young talents to watch and learn from, fans were comparing him to legends of the game.
I've never seen a teenager so ridiculously talented yet looking so composed since… Well, ya know, that guy from Mallorca. #Shapovalov
— Bastien Fachan (@BastienFachan) August 31, 2017
Shapovalov, who had to make his way through qualifying to get into the US Open, has now won 12 of the 13 sets he’s played in Flushing Meadows this year. The lone set he dropped came in his final qualifying match when he dropped the opening set in a tiebreak after holding a handful of set points.
OH COME ON ! YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME ! #Shapovalov
— Carole Bouchard (@carole_bouchard) August 31, 2017
In Tsonga’s post-match press conference he was asked to comment on Shapovalov’s overall game. The Frenchman said:
He’s already a very good player. He’s very aggressive, and very athletic too. I noticed that because I had a lot of trouble trying to overpower him on the court. On top of that, he’s left-handed – so that’s a game-style you don’t face too often.
What's most remarkable about this Shapovalov performance is it feels utterly routine. Playing within himself and dominating #8 seed. #usopen
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 31, 2017
How good has Denis the Menace been as of late? Since the Aegon Championships in June Denis has beaten five Top 50 players. This includes his massive upset when he rallied from a set down to beat world no. 1 (then world no. 2) Rafael Nadal in Montreal.
– del Potro
The kid is 18 years old.
— Adrin 🎾 (@Chalk_Flew_Up) August 31, 2017
Denis’s fine form has come at a good time. With former champions Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka absent, as well as past Major finalists Kei Nishikori and compatriot Milos Raonic sidelined with injury, the bottom half of the men’s draw is wide open.
— Max (@MGLovesTennis) August 31, 2017
Shapovalov is in the same quarter as 2014 champion Marin Cilic, who is a potential quarter-final clash for the Canadian. John Isner, Mischa Zverev and Sam Querrey also linger as possible semi-final opponents, if Shapovalov were to keep advancing through the draw.
No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev, one of the favourites to win the US Open, was upset on Day 3. Now, with the exception of Cilic, no man in the bottom half of the draw has appeared in a Grand Slam final.
Denis Shapovalov legitimately looks like he can win the #USOpen.
— TENNIS.com (@Tennis) August 31, 2017
Denis Shapovalov gets another big win, beats Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(3) to reach #USOpen R3.
The kid is so so good [getty] pic.twitter.com/rqqK5LJj6H
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) August 31, 2017
He is still just a kid, though. 😂
Denis Shapovalov, begins an on-court answer with: "my mom taught me…"
— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) August 31, 2017
With his victory, Shapovalov currently stands at no. 58 in the ATP live rankings. In January he was no. 250 and set a season goal to finish 2017 inside the Top 150.
Denis Shapovalov had a better August than you. pic.twitter.com/Cu6gmPaJxq
— Caroline Cameron (@SNCaroline) August 31, 2017
All these US fans asking me – "can we please claim #Shapovalov as a (north) American?!" My Canadian friends say: "no chance. He's ours."
— Chris Fowler (@cbfowler) August 31, 2017
— ATP Media Info (@ATPMediaInfo) August 31, 2017
Shapovalov will play Kyle Edmund in the third round on Friday. The pair have faced off twice so far in 2017 and have split the two meetings. Shapovalov won their most recent encounter at the Aegon Championships in London 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-4.
Edmund’s career-best showing at a Major came in 2016 when he appeared in the fourth round at the US Open. Shapovalov is playing in his second Major main draw.