If you go to the qualifiers of the US Open–or I think, to the qualies of every tennis tournament–you’ll get to see players very well, since court stands are usually quite empty, apart from coaches, families, or some diehard fans. Well, this is definitely not the case if the one who is playing is Denis Shapovalov. I was literally amazed by the amount of people watching his last match of qualifiers, which he eventually won in three sets against Jan Satral. I was watching some Italian players, and I decided to join the Canadian NextGen star for the first set tiebreak–which he eventually lost. There were so many people around that I didn’t even get the chance to see him! I don’t know if this is due to his beautiful one-handed backhand, to his charisma, or to the fact that he reached the semis of a Masters 1000 earlier this month in Montreal. Whatever the reason is, it is fair to admit that there is a general interest towards this young tennis player, and more and more people are willing to watch some his matches. I sense that fans really think that he’s going to be one of the top players in the future, and they want to witness his early stages–he’s probably not going to play another qualifying match, so the US Open was probably the last chance to watch this 18-year-old for free.
Even if he struggled a bit to reach the main draw, he did it, and the tennis gods were by his side. Indeed, he was placed in the bottom half of the draw, the one which suffered because of Andy Murray’s withdrawal, the one with no Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer. But as always, luck is not enough to reach massive achievements. And indeed, he started displaying a great game, feeling he had the chance for a life-time result in a Grand Slam, and in the first round he eased past Daniil Medvedev in three sets, reaching the second round, where he faces French Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, in the 87-singles matches day–one of the craziest ever of a Grand Slam!
Once again, he showed no fear, and ousted the former Australian Open finalist in three sets, reaching the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career, at his second main draw appearance of a Grand Slam, and the first one at the US Open.
The natural question that comes can’t be anything but: what’s next? And the answer is… Kyle Edmund! You don’t get to play #42 in the world for a spot in the fourth round of a Slam every day, especially if you come from the qualifiers! And if he manages to overcome the Brit, he will face the winner or Pablu Carreno Busta vs Nicolas Mahut for a spot in the quarterfinals. It may sound insane, but luck with the draw and a crystalline talent can bring situations like his to reality! The bottom half of the draw lost Alexander Zverev, too, who lost his second round match against Borna Coric. The only top ten player remaining his Marin Cilic, who won the US Open once, and he could be Shapovalov’s opponent in the quarterfinal. If it happens, that match promises to be one of the most entertaining of a Slam, and I wouldn’t say Cilic would be the legit favorite, since all of the pressure would be on his shoulders. Sometimes, when you play with nothing to lose and with a young and fresh mentality–as Shapovalov is obviously doing–unthinkable goals can be achieved. And the Canadian seems to like unthinkable goals, and most importantly he seems to be able to reach them with no fear.
I early mentioned that this is her first appearance at the New York Slam. Venus Williams reached the final in her first appearance. Rafael Nadal won Roland Garros at this first appearance. Do you get my point? We may be witnessing the emergence of one of the biggest champions of this sport. Only time can prove me right or wrong. As for now, let’s see what happens against Kyle Edmund. One match a time, one goal at a time.
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