Photo: AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
Denis Shapovalov came very close to qualifying for the semi-finals at the US Open, but fell in a tightly disputed match to Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain.
The players exchanged breaks in the first two games of the opening set before Shapovalov shifted into high gear. The young Canadian dominated play, pushing his opponent around and making him run all over the court. He came out on the winning end of a number of lengthy rallies, firing some impressive shots past Carreno Busta. The Canadian also very effective coming to the net, showcasing his delicate touch.
The second set was full of breaks, as both players struggled to hold serve, particularly Shapovalov who fired six double faults and was shaky on his second serve. Despite facing a few late break points, the Canadian showed resiliency and played some big points to bring the set to a tiebreak. He would be unable, however, to take the 2-0 lead in the match, as the Spaniard stepped up his play in the tiebreak and leveled the score.
Carreno Busta had a relatively slower start to the match, but gave Shapovalov some difficulties, particularly with his defensive play and his willingness to chase down every ball. His tenacity paid off as he outlasted the Canadian in the tiebreak, taking his first lead in the match.
The fourth set was over in the blink of an eye, as Shapovalov broke his opponent three times to take the set in 28 minutes without conceding a single game.
It all came down to the fifth set. Having struggled on his serve at various moments throughout the match, Shapovalov committed a critical double fault to give Carreno Busta the break he needed to win the match. After a little over four hours of play, Shapovalov ultimately fell to his opponent by a score of 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4), 0-6, 6-3.
This was the fifth time that these two players were competing, with the Spaniard leading their head-to-head with three previous wins. In fact, it was Carreno Busta who ended Shapovalov’s breakthrough at the US Open in 2017 when they faced each other in the fourth round. The Canadian was coming off a stellar summer which also saw him reach the semi-finals at the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank in Montreal.
In reaching the quarter-finals, Shapovalov became the first Canadian man in the open era to reach that stage at the US Open.