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 Rublev wins US Open Tennis third-round thriller against Shapovalov in fifth-set tiebreaker

Andrey Rublev of Russia celebrates his win over Denis Shapovalov of Canada during their US Open third-round match. (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

By Ricky Dimon

Death, taxes, and Labor Day weekend drama on the Grandstand at the U.S. Open…. Those might as well be the three certainties of life.

There was more of the latter on Saturday, when a third-round showdown between Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov lived up to the hype and then some. With both guys playing better than they had been at almost any point previously in the season, Rublev outlasted Shapovalov 6-4, 2-6, 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-6(10-7) after four hours and 10 minutes in front of a standing-room-only crowd.

The epic encounter was every bit of see-saw affair as the scoreline suggests. In fact, the score probably doesn’t even do justice to the roller-coaster ride that the enthralled fans–most of whom were for Shapovalov–endured. There were 26 break points in total, eight of which were converted (four for each man). After splitting the first two sets, Rublev had a set point in the third with Shapovalov serving at 5-6 but ended up losing it in a tiebreaker. In the fourth, the Canadian had two break points with Rublev serving for it at 5-4 before the Russian held a six-deuce game to force a fifth.

An even more dramatic decider ensued. Both players had a break opportunity in two different return games en route to a 4-4 deadlock. Rublev finally broke for 5-4, but he failed to serve out the match despite earning match points at 40-15, 40-30, and another at ad-in. Shapovalov managed to break and two holds later a super-tiebreaker was necessary.

Rublev raced to a quick 3-0 lead and never trailed in the ‘breaker, although Shapovalov briefly got back on level terms at 3-3. The No. 9 seed was quick to regain control and eventually converted his fifth match point at 9-7 by connecting on a great return of serve and forcing Shapovalov into an error.

“Obviously (it) was (a) crazy match,” Rublev said. “Obviously Denis deserved to win, Both of us deserved to win. (It was) just (an) unreal match.

“(At) 5-4, 40-15, when you’re losing those match points and you have one more, you’re losing your serve, the feeling is like you were so close, you were feeling (it was) already done. Now (it) looks (like) the match is completely back again. The feeling was [even worse] inside. But then I start to say, ‘Okay, I want to have the feeling after the match that I did my best because if I start to think about it, I’m going to lose maybe 7-5. Then I will regret double that I didn’t fight ’til the end–that I was not able to do my best.

“So I was just telling myself, ‘Just finish the match. Do your best. [When you leave] the court, you have no regrets…. In the end I was able to win. (In) this moment I feel double proud of myself now.”

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