Denis Shapovalov took a big career step on Thursday when he beat compatriot Milos Raonic, Canada’s No. 1 since 2010, in a first-time meeting at the Mutua Madrid Open for a place in the quarter-finals. It denied Raonic the 300th match win of his career.
Shapovalov belied his 19 years, playing with great maturity to beat fellow big-server Raonic 6-4, 6-4 in 82 minutes. He is through to his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final, nine months on from upsetting Rafael Nadal en route to the 2017 Rogers Cup semi-finals in Montreal.
“[It was] definitely one of my best days on clay,” said Shapovalov. “To be on the court against such a legend for me, and for my country, it was an honour. It was fun. There was no pressure on me, [but] obviously a lot more on him playing a young guy coming up. But, I mean, I just enjoyed myself.
“To beat him, it was a huge confidence booster for me. The match felt like everything kind of went great. I was guessing a lot the right way on his serves. When I got my racquet on them, usually they were falling in. There's nothing to criticise about my performance today.”
The #NextGenATP star will now meet Kyle Edmund, who has beaten two-time former champion Novak Djokovic and David Goffin this week for a place in his first Masters 1000 quarter-final. The pair are tied 2-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, with Edmund winning 6-7(5), 7-6(4), 6-4 at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp in January.
“I have another tough match against Kyle tomorrow,” said Shapovalov. “We're 2-all. At the start of the year he beat me in a really close match. It was unbelievable tennis... The performance was really, really good from the both of us. I'm definitely expecting a tough match tomorrow. It's going to be good tennis. We're both playing extremely well. It's going to be fun.”
Shapovalov could not convert two break points in the fifth game, but made it third time lucky at 3-4, when he struck a backhand return that Raonic misjudged due to a bad bounce. Shapovalov later wrapped up the 40-minute set, with a big first serve that Raonic could not reach.
While Raonic drew upon his big-match experience, Shapovalov didn’t let up on his serve or first forehand. Just like the first set, he missed out on two break points at 2-2, prior to breaking Raonic’s serve with a backhand to take a 4-3 lead. Shapovalov bounced back from 0/30, with a degree of luck, when serving for the match at 5-4.
Earlier in the day, Edmund maintained his run of form at the Caja Magica. The 23-year-old Briton didn’t experience any letdown from his second-round win over Djokovic, when he knocked out sixth-seeded Goffin 6-3, 6-3 in 73 minutes.
Edmund was marvelously effective on serve — winning 25 of his 29 first-service points (86 per cent) — as his greater weight of shot earned him the second Top 10 victory of his career. It also avenged his five-set loss to Goffin in the 2015 Davis Cup final, which Great Britain won.
Edmund, who will move into the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday, got off to a strong start by breaking Goffin’s serve in the first game and from 4-3 in the opener he won three straight games. Having broken Goffin in the sixth game of the second set, Edmund could not convert one match point when No. 10-ranked Goffin served at 2-5, 30/40, but the Briton remained composed to earn his next game. Edmund committed just nine unforced errors in total.
Did You Know?
Shapovalov will surpass Raonic as Canada's No. 1-ranked player should he reach the Madrid final.