Denis Shapovalov, the youngest player in the ATP Tour’s top 30, has made his intentions known that he wants to join his peers, such as Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alex de Minaur, in the winner’s circle.
Seeded 10th at this week’s 500-level event in Rotterdam after a couple of withdrawals, the 19-year-old has advanced to the quarterfinals, where he’ll face three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka.
Will Shapovalov be up for the challenge?
Playing the event for the first time, the Canadian has looked sharp so far. In the first round, he defeated Franko Skugor, a qualifier from Croatia known mainly for his doubles success, in straight sets. His second, and most impressive, win came against Tomas Berdych, one of the hottest players on tour so far in this early part of the season.
Both of their prior encounters had gone the distance, with Shapovalov prevailing in a third-set tiebreak last year in Rome on clay and Berdych winning on grass, 7-5 in the third set, at Queen’s Club in 2017.
Making a comeback from an injury-plagued campaign last year, Berdych entered this match with twice as many wins in 2019 as his younger opponent. However, on the indoor hard courts at the Ahoy Rotterdam, Shapovalov clinched the match rather easily, 6-4, 6-3, to reach his second quarterfinal of the season.
Next up is another veteran looking to solidify his comeback, too.
Wawrinka’s climb back up the rankings has been a slow and steady one, but he’s also playing in his second quarterfinal of 2019. In the first round of Rotterdam, the Swiss defeated his good friend Benoit Paire in straight sets, then followed that up with a convincing win over Milos Raonic, who beat him at the Australian Open this year.
Wawrinka also stopped a three-match losing streak to the Canadian as his last win came against Raonic in Rotterdam in 2015.
Now he faces Shapovalov, Raonic’s Davis Cup teammate and challenger for the top spot in the national rankings. The two met for the first time a few months ago in Tokyo and Shapovalov defeated Wawrinka in three sets.
Both players are aggressive-minded baseliners with two of the best one-handed backhands in the game. Stylistically, they appear to be evenly matched, with Wawrinka definitely possessing an edge when it comes to experience. He’ll also come into this match with more confidence than when they met last fall.
Shapovalov, though, has shown so far this week that he’s up for the challenge, with his desire to become a first-time champion already serving him well.
ATP Rotterdam (Mon - Sun 2/11 - 2/17)
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ATP New York (Mon - Sun 2/11 - 2/17)
• Watch Frances Tiafoe, John Isner and Alex de Minaur live from New York starting Monday 2/11 at 11:00 am ET
WTA Doha (Mon - Sat 2/11 - 2/16)
• Starting Monday 2/11 at 7:30 am ET, catch live coverage of the Qatar Total Open featuring Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber.
ATP Buenos Aires (Mon - Sun 2/11 - 2/17)
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USTA College Match Day 3 Lake Nona - (Sat - 2/16)
• Tennis Channel Plus features live coverage of USTA College Matches in Lake Nona on Saturday 2/16 4:00 pm ET