Shapovalov marches on
Originally published on 12/08/17 00:00
The Canadian is the youngest player to ever reach the last four at a Masters event and he is the lowest ranked player to reach this stage of a second tier tournament in 13 years.
A capacity crowd on Court Central was once again enthralled by Shapovalov’s penchant for the spectacular however it was the teenager’s fighting qualities that propelled him over the winning the line.
After an emotional and energy-sapping triumph over Rafael Nadal yesterday evening, it was unclear whether the 18-year-old would be able to replicate his heroics against a quirky opponent.
The answer quickly became apparent as Shapovalov made a stuttering start to the contest. Consecutive double-faults in his first service game donated a break to his unassuming French rival and he was unable to muster a satisfactory response.
Mannarino is not blessed with tremendous firepower but his short and compact groundstrokes are difficult to read. The 29-year-old, ranked No.42 in the world, claimed the opener by six games to two and the last eight debutant was firmly in the ascendancy.
Little had worked for the Canadian in the first set as he continually struggled to keep the ball within the confines of the court. A 13-minute rain-delay in the middle of the second set afforded the youngster an opportunity to reflect and the stoppage undoubtedly helped his cause.
On the resumption, an untidy service game from Mannarino gifted his rival a platform to mount a comeback. The 18-year-old had a 4-2 lead and his level of play improved considerably as he eventually achieved parity on the scoreboard.
Shapovalov in a confident character and there was no doubt in his mind that he was going to emerge victorious in the decider. His venomous forehand, which had rocked Nadal, proved to be the difference in a pulsating climax to the contest.
Mannarino was being overpowered in the baseline exchanges and his attempt to reestablish control was unsuccessful. At 4-4, the Frenchman tried to be more proactive however his forehand was the source of much angst as he dropped serve at an inopportune moment.
Shapovalov had once again saved his best for the crunch section of the duel and he completed the formalities on serve to make it another night to remember for Canadian tennis.
Who knows what this precocious teen will do next.