The results of the past several weeks have shown that Denis Shapovalov can compete with the best tennis players in the world.

Heading into a third-round match on Friday against No. 42-ranked Kyle Edmund of Britain, there’s no doubt he’s at a level that makes him a threat to anyone. The only question is about whether he can continue the way he has played the past four weeks – a period that has seen him beat two Grand Slam champions – Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro (in Montreal) – get through three rounds of US Open qualifying with all eyes focused on him and then win his first two matches ever in a Grand Slam tournament, the second on Wednesday night 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(3) over world No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Tsonga’s coach Thierry Ascione was generous in his praise of Shapovalov – declaring that he had played a “perfect match” against his man in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“He hits the ball really hard,” said the 36-year-old Frenchman about the 18-year-old Canadian sensation, “and even his second serve is at 190 km/hr (118 mph) and, if he makes 70 per cent (actually 67 per cent vs. Tsonga) of his first serves, with the lefty effect, it’s deadly.”

Maybe the best thing Shapovalov has going for him at the moment is his youthful insouciance. He’s fearless and full of that confidence and has a bullet-proof aspect to him that comes with his big breakthrough and the fact that everything in his game is flowing freely.

It was interesting to hear Tsonga use the phrase “future great’ when talking about Shapovalov before their second-round match-up. On the actual match court, there was a sense that Tsonga had indeed encountered a worst-case scenario – a daring, carefree teenager – and was fazed by it.

After Wednesday’s loss in two hours and 12 minutes, Tsonga said referring to Shapovalov, “we’ve all had that feeling that we could move mountains, and that’s where he’s at now. He’s (en plein boom) just exploding and serving huge so it’s not easy to play him. He’s a guy who takes enormous risks but I knew that going onto the court.”

There’s nothing wrong with taking risks – as long as you pull them off and Shapovalov is doing that at the moment. He’s especially adept at putting away the short ball, which puts a lot of pressure on his opponents to keep the ball deep. But, with the pace of his ground strokes, that’s no easy task.

So far at the US Open, Shapovalov has been at best 50-50 against his first two opponents – No. 54-ranked Daniil Medvedev of Russia in the first round and No. 12 Tsonga in the second – but now he will be favoured against Edmund after beating the Brit 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-4 at the Queen’s Club tournament before Wimbledon in June. That could change the dynamic.

Of course the previous match between the two in February in Ottawa – infamous because of its ending when Shapovalov was disqualified for accidentally striking the umpire with a ball when he was on his way to what looked like a straight-sets loss to Edmund – has inevitably come up in the hype before Friday’s match which will be second on Ashe not starting before 1 p.m. (ET).

Talking about the February incident on Wednesday, the 22-year-old Edmund suggested, as more than a few people have, that Shapovalov may have actually been able to turn a traumatic episode into a positive. “He obviously realized he did wrong,” Edmund said about the man he faces Friday. “In a funny way, I think it’s actually helped him mature because since then he has done good. He has really learned from it and moved forward in a positive way and realized that that behaviour is just something he has got to be better at. He has had a good year since then.”

Edmund also talked about what he saw from his end of the court that fateful February 5th afternoon in Ottawa during Davis Cup. “I definitely watched it back (on YouTube),” he said. “You can see on the video that my head was down when he hit it. I thought he hit it against the boards at the side where our team was. I thought the umpire was going, ‘oh no, what’s he done? You can’t smack a ball like that so close to people,’ and then I realized it actually hit him. It’s quite funny actually, everyone is in shock, no one is really doing anything – a very weird one. It got a few YouTube hits. All of my matches have got something like 5,000 or 10,000, then you go on that and it’s 200,000 just from that incident.”

There will be a stark contrast in personalities when Shapovalov and Edmund meet on Friday. Shapovalov wears his heart on his sleeve while Edmund, a Yorkshire-man who now has a flat in Wimbledon, is very much the button-down, stoic type.

Of late he has been on a good run – upsetting No. 32 seed Robin Haase in the first round at Flushing Meadows and beating American Steve Johnson in the second. That follows six matches won – three in the qualifying and three in the main draw – while reaching the semifinals of the Winston Salem, N.C., ATP 250 event last week.

“Shapovalov likes to be offensive, likes to move forward, take the ball on,” Edmund said. “He’s been playing well in terms of this run in Montreal and then (US Open) qualifying. So he is feeling good. It’s going to be a tough match but at the same time I’m playing well so definitely no reason why I shouldn’t go out there feeling confident.”

A key for Shapovalov will be to serve as well as he did against Tsonga – although Edmund’s backhand will likely not be as vulnerable as Tsonga’s was on Wednesday.

While he didn’t hit a single ace until the third set (two), the speed, spin and direction of his serve was excellent – allowing him to win 77 per cent of first serve points and 56 per cent on his second serve.

Looking ahead to the Edmund match, Shapovalov said about the Brit, “he’s not afraid to take it to the guy – there’s no easy matches here.”

The fact that the match is on Ashe Stadium will likely be to Shapovalov’s advantage. He has said over and over on his recent run that he enjoys playing before large crowds in big stadiums.

During Wednesday’s night match, ESPN commentator Darren Cahill suggested that Shapovalov has that ‘X-factor’ – a kind of gold dust that makes him comfortable and able to perform on the biggest stages.

His development since the incident in February has been nothing short of astounding. A win over Edmund and his current ‘live ranking’ of No. 62 would likely move up to No. 50 or No. 49. If it holds up there until the next ATP rankings are out on September 11th, he would become the youngest player to rank in the top-50 since Rafael Nadal on August 4, 2003, when the Majorcan was barely 17.

The captain of the British Davis Cup team in Ottawa was Leon Smith. During a bus-ride into Manhattan from the US Open on Sunday evening, he was asked whether he could believe the improvement in Shapovalov over such a short period of time. He responded by simply shaking his head in amazement.

On Friday, Smith will likely be courtside watching Edmund and hoping that Shapovalov’s remarkable run of success does not continue against his player as the two go head-to-head for a spot in Sunday’s round-of 16.



Daniel Nestor and partner Dominic Inglot of Britain were eliminated in the first round of the doubles on Thursday – beaten 6-4, 7-5 by the Russian pairing of Mikhail Elgin and Daniil Medvedev.

They had break points at 4-3 in the final set but neither Inglot nor Nestor could connect with a return.

Serving at 5-all, Nestor started with consecutive double faults and his side was soon broken to 15.

The Russians served out to love in the ensuing game to wind up the one hour and 15-minute match.

In women’s doubles, ninth seeded Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan of China advanced leading 3-2 in the first set when Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and Andrea Petkovic were forced to retire because of Lucic-Baroni’s leg injury.

In the second round Dabrowski and Xu will play Spaniards Lara Arruabarrena and Arantxa Parra Santonja.



Citi Field is the 42,000-seat home stadium of the New York Mets and opened in 2009 on the site of the old Shea Stadium. It’s located on the opposite side of the Long Island Rail Road tracks from the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center where the US Open is played.

The building is classic looking in outer appearance but things aren’t so pretty just a few 100 yards away.