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Tennis 10sBalls Shares Ricky’s Best ATP Matches Of 2017: No. 9 Is Shapovalov vs. Nadal In Montreal

Denis Shapovalov of Canada in action against Rafael Nadal of Spain during the third round of the Rogers Cup ATP men’s tennis tournament in Montreal, Canada, 10 August 2017. EPA/ANDRE PICHETTE



Ricky’s best ATP matches of 2017: No. 9 is Shapovalov vs. Nadal in Montreal


By Ricky Dimon


Over the next week, Ricky is counting down his top 10 men’s matches of the year, in order from No. 10 all the way down to No. 1. It continues at No. 9 with a third-round showdown at the Montreal Masters between Denis Shapovalov and Rafael Nadal. Shapovalov, who probably should have been out of the tournament in the first round, pulled off the biggest win of his career in a final-set tiebreaker.


Montreal Masters third round: Denis Shapovalov d. Rafael Nadal 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(4)


This matchup should never even have happened–and fans of Nadal must wish that was the case. In the Rogers Cup first round, Shapovalov faced a whopping four match points against unheralded opponent Rogerio Dutra Silva. But the 18-year-old fought off all four, saving two of them on Dutra Silva’s serve and two others on his own serve–one with an ace and another with an amazing backhand volley off his shoelaces. Shapovalov eventually survived that thriller 4-6, 7-6(8), 6-4 before ousting Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3, 7-6(4) in round two.


And with that the stage was set for what proved to be something even more dramatic than Shapovalov’s opening match.


Like he did in his first outing in front of the Canadian faithful, Shapovalov did extremely well amidst the pressure of playing from behind against Nadal. After losing the opening set, he broke the Spaniard early in the second and had points for a 5-1 lead. Despite seeing Nadal storm back for a 4-4 draw, Shapovalov delivered a crucial hold for a 5-4 lead and then broke to force a deciding set.


In the third, the youngster saved three break points at 1-1 and soon played his way into a ‘breaker. Nadal surged to a 3-0 lead, but it was all Shapovalov the rest of the way. The Canadian crowd was ignited into one last frenzy when their guy produced a down-the-line forehand winner to clinch his breakthrough victory and announce his true arrival as a force on tour.


“It’s so tough; a lot of the times he just hits a shot that’s way too good,” Shapovalov said of Nadal. “I was managing to get a lot back when I could. But, you know, he’s honestly the best player I’ve ever played in my life. You could tell why he’s won so many Grand Slams. His ball was just so heavy. He’s such a warrior out there. So it’s honestly like a dream come true for me to beat a player like that.


“I don’t know if a lot of players fold or if he just outplays them at the end. I was down 3-0 in the tiebreak; I did a good job to regroup…. I just tried to stay calm, tried to play every point, (and) go for my shots. At the end of the day, I really tried to keep playing my game and stick to my tactics.”


Well, that plan worked out okay for the kid!


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.


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