Canadian Teenager Denis Shapovalov Stuns Nadal In Montreal Thriller - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Latest news

Canadian Teenager Denis Shapovalov Stuns Nadal In Montreal Thriller

Published

on

Denis Shapovalov (zimbio.com)

18-year-old Denis Shapovalov has derailed Rafael Nadal’s No.1 goal after stunning the top seed 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(4), at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. 

 

It was a night to remember for Montreal’s tennis history, a night to treasure for Canadian Tennis. The blockbuster match of Thursday’s night session at the Rogers Cup in Montreal was squaring of the world n.2 Nadal, just two wins away from regaining the top spot of the ranking, and 18-year-old home-grown player Shapovalov. It ended the way nobody thought it could end, with Shapovalov laying on the ground of Uniprix Stadium, after having just beaten one of his childhood heros, advanced to his home tournament quarterfinals and, most likely, just broken into the Top 100. “This is what I dreamed of growing up, playing these guys” said Shapovalov during the press conference “this is a dream come true”.

The youngster started playing very boldly, swinging at full power, knowing he would need to play near his limits to keep up with his higher-ranked opponent. Shapovalov faced his first break points in the fifth game, but he managed to stave off Nadal’s attacks with some brave winners. Spectators cheered in admiration at a couple of backhands down the line from the young Canadian, but a small dip in attention was enough to cost him the first set: at 3-4 he missed two forehands by an inch or so, stumbled onto a double fault and that was enough to write Rafa’s name on the first set.

The crowd got into the game, chanting “Denis, Denis” and Shapovalov responded like a true warrior: he broke first in the second set, rushed 2-0, then held comfortably for 4-1. Two chances for 5-1 were carefully neutralized by Rafa, who then went on to take advantage of the first real momentary lapse by Denis: one easy smash sent near the fences and two unforced errors from the baseline cost him the break-back, and when at 4-4 Nadal went 0-30 on the opponent’s serve, nobody in the house thought they’d be there for much longer. But Shapovalov refused to play that script and he not only got into the lead at 5-4, but he clinched the second set after a lucky backhand return.

Embed from Getty Images

Eighty-nine minutes of play already gone and the third set started with Shapovalov hitting hard standing with his feet on the baseline and Nadal scrambling from behind the “Montreal 375” sign. The third game was a watershed: 26 points, 15 minutes, three break points for Nadal, all squandered. Shapovalov held, and did not want to give in. At 4-4 Nadal saw a small glimmer of hope at 15-30, but he missed three consecutive returns. At that point, it was almost 11.00 pm but no one had left their seats, including hockey legend Wayne Gretsky, on his feet to encourage Shapovalov.

A tie-break in the decisive set was the worthy conclusion of this epic battle. A forehand volley was missed by Shapovalov on the first point, allowing Nadal to swiftly take a 3-0 advantage. But the Spaniard served his second double fault of the match and was tied at 3-3. Then madness took over: at 4-3 Nadal we have an ace, and forehand winner, an unforced by Nadal and another netted forehand unleashed pandemonium at the Uniprix stadium.

“It’s a lot to take in, obviously. But, you know, honestly, to be honest, I’m very thankful that I’m in this position. If I didn’t save those four match points in the first round, there wouldn’t even be a chance to play Juan Martinez [sic] or Rafa. I’m very thankful for that.” Said Shapovalov.

Nadal will not return to n.1 at the end of this week, but he can make it next week in Cincinnati. Shapovalov, on the other hand, has become the youngest player to reach a Masters 1000 quarterfinal, the second youngest player to defeat Nadal in history (after Borna Coric) and he faces Adrian Mannarino for a berth in the Semifinals.

ATP

Novak Djokovic ‘Hurt’ By Father’s Absence From Australian Open Final

Published

on

Novak Djokovic - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

Novak Djokovic said he mutually agreed with his father that he did not attend his latest Australian Open match but admits it was a bitter pill to swallow. 

 

Srdjan Djokovic had attended his son’s matches throughout the majority of the tournament but has recently been caught up in controversy. On Wednesday a video surfaced on social media of the 62-year-old posing for a photo with pro-Russian supporters with one of the fans waving a flag with the face of Vladimir Putin on it. Another fan was also wearing a t-shirt with the ‘Z’ symbol on it which is used to support the Russian army. 

The Russian and Belarussian flags were banned from the tournament this year following an incident in the first round. A Russian flag was shown during a match between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova. Prompting anger from Ukraine with its ambassador to Australia calling for a ‘neutral flag’ policy to be implemented. 

Srdjan has since issued a statement saying the incident was ‘unintentional’ and said his family ‘only wish for peace in the world.’ He subsequently also missed Djokovic’s semi-final match to avoid any possible ‘disruption’ before doing the same for Sunday’s final.

“I thought things would calm down in terms of media and everything, but it didn’t. We both agreed it would probably be better that he is not there,” Djokovic said after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas to win a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title
“That hurts me and him (Srdjan) a lot because these are very special, unique moments. Who knows if they repeat again? So it was not easy for him.”

Whilst he was not in the stands, Djokovic was reunited with his father shortly afterwards. Although the tennis star said Srdjan ‘was not feeling his best’ due to the situation. 

“It is what it is. I think in the end also what he told me is that it’s important that I feel good on the court, I win the match, and he’s here for me,” Djokovic continued. 
“If it’s going to be better for me as the outcome of the match so that he’s not in the box, then so be it. That was the whole conversation.’
“In a way, I’m also sad that he was not there, present, in the stands. But he was throughout the entire tournament, so it’s fine. In the end, we have a happy ending.”

Djokovic has now won five out of the past seven Grand Slam tournaments he has played in. At the Australian Open alone he has won 28 matches in a row.

Continue Reading

ATP

Australian Open: Facing Tsitsipas For World No. 1 Spot May Be Different for Novak Djokovic

Published

on

Image via https://twitter.com/atptour/

It probably was a good thing that Novak Djokovic wasn’t facing a top opponent in the Australian Open semifinals. Certainly not one the caliber of Stefanos Tsitsipas.

 

Of course, Tommy Paul did his best. He just isn’t a top ten caliber player.

The American could rally with Djokovic, but when it came time to win the point or game, he  usually was nowhere to be found on the Rod Laver court.

DJOKOVIC WILL NEED TO BE BETTER

The fact that Tsitsipas is in contention for the No. 1 ranking in men’s tennis is enough to ensure that Paul isn’t quite in the league with the Greek superstar.

Djokovic will need to be better than he was against Paul when he steps onto the court to face Tsitsipas on Sunday night in the Australian Open singles final.

There was Djokovic blundering his way through a one-sided 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 win over Paul. The scoreline should have been closer to 3-1-2. But Novak appeared to have all kinds of physical ailments — legs, knees, bandaged hamstring. Or just plain conditioning and breathing hard. You name it.

NIGHT-TIME DUTY ONCE AGAIN

It was just night time in Melbourne. You wonder what might have happened if Novak had been assigned some daytime duty like everyone else in the tournament. Say, like Tsitsipas had been assigned for his closer than the scores reflex in the Greek’s 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3 win over Karen Khachanov in Friday’s other semifinal.

Tsitsipas is a real threat to claim the world’s top ranking on Sunday night with a victory over the legend from Serbia. Of course, in the 2021 French Open final, Tsitipsas won the first two sets against Djokovic.

It’s possible. Tsitsipas could come through this time.

A SHADOW OF THE OLD NOVAK

Novak was only a shadow of the old Djokovic Friday night. And that was against a player who may never earn a berth in another Grand Slam semifinal.

Of course, Djokovic wasn’t quite as out of it as Rafa Nadal was in the second-round blitzing by Mackenzie McDonald. But Nadal was nursing a hip injury. He may be a different player in Paris in four months.

Djokovic still has all of the big shots and serves he has displayed for much of the last two decades. He just didn’t seem to know where all of those weapons were headed in the semifinals.

IS NOVAK’S BAG OF TRICKS EMPTY?

Of course, if Novak pulls a solid performance out of his bag of tricks and denies Tsitsipas the world’s top ranking, Djokovic likely would stand in Nadal’s path in Paris to a record 23rd Grand Slam singles title.

The task won’t be easy. First, Novak has to take care of business on Sunday night. But with a record-tying 22nd Grand Slam title up for grabs, Djokovic may actually look like himself. 

As Novak says, he wants to be known as the best player in the world.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

Continue Reading

Latest news

Coach Of Elena Rybakina Dismisses Allegations Of Poor Behavior At Australian Open

Stefano Vukov explains why he believes his actions were appropriate during Rybakina’s semi-final win over Aryna Sabalenka.

Published

on

Image via AUS Open twitter

The coach of Elena Rybakina has denied accusations that he was berating his player during her clash with Victoria Azarenka at the Australian Open by saying he was just doing his job. 

 

Stefano Vukov was seen multiple times during Rybakina’s semi-final match being highly animated and making a series of critical gestures towards his player when she produced mistakes. The display prompted criticism on social media with former player Laura Robson saying on Eurosport ‘I don’t know how she (Rybakina) copes. He seems to be so negative on the side.”

Croatian-born Vukov has been working with the reigning Wimbledon champion since 2019 and previously coached Anhelina Kalinina. He was briefly a player on the Futures and Challenger Tour before going to America to study. Growing up his family left Croatia when he was a child due to the war and he spent roughly 15 years living in Italy.

“It’s easy to just take clips and then make something controversial. This is part of our sport, it’s normal,” Vukov told Fox Sports Australia when quizzed about his behaviour. 
“There’s 10,000 people out there, to get the attention of the player is definitely not easy and people don’t understand that. I have to scream out something if she’s off track.
“People can interpret that how they want but at the end of the day we’re just doing our job. Coaching is now allowed and she’s using it in the best possible way.”

This year is the first time that coaching is allowed during matches at the Australian Open but it is only allowed if players and coaches are on the same side of the court and there is no hindrance towards their opponent.  

Continuing to hit back at the criticism, Rybakina’s mentor says during the match there are key moments where he needs to remind her of certain tactics. Dismissing suggestions from some that his approach is heavy-handed in any way. 

“I think with all the emotions, sometimes the player doesn’t understand which situation of the match they are, which is absolutely normal,” he said. 
“You know, you’re flowing, you’re into a rhythm, which has happened also yesterday, for example, against Azarenka. A set, 3-1 up, two breakpoints. She stopped playing, Elena, for a couple of games, for example, instead of going for the point a little bit more.
“There are moments we try to remind her, Hey, this is the moment to push. This is the moment to defend.
“It’s normal. There are moments of the match the player doesn’t remember, for example, or in a pressure point, which side to defend more, where to serve more.
“We are there to remind them. So obviously I think that coaching is very important. I think that the player, if the player wants to listen, obviously, they should use it as much as possible, because there is some matches that a few points make the difference. Look at the beginning of yesterday. 3-2 down, two bad choices. That’s it. That’s it. She could have been 3-0 or 4-0 up.
“I don’t know, something like this. Not to be negative, but it’s just our job, right? That’s what we are there for.”

In a previous interview with Tennis Majors last year, Vukov said he and Rybakina clicked together due to ‘his energy against her calmness.’ He also described the world No.25 as  ‘a hardworking perfectionist, which sometimes works against her because sometimes she gets frustrated when things are not perfect.’

Rybakina will play Aryna Sabalenka in the Australian Open final on Saturday. As a result of her run in Melbourne, she will crack the top 10 next week for the first time regardless of how she performs in the final. 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending