Ending a dream week that saw him beat several tennis veterans, Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov, who was born in Israel, was knocked out of the Rogers Cup late night Saturday, losing his semifinal match to fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany.
Zverev ended the final hopes of the 143rd world-ranked newcomer, who moved with his family to Canada before his first birthday, with a 6-4, 7-5 victory. Zverev will now face the number two seed, Roger Federer, in Sunday’s final.
The 18-year-old left-handed Shapovalov, now from Richmond Hill, Ontario, beat 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro in the second round and then knocked out the top-seeded Rafael Nadal in a third-set tiebreaker in the round of 16.
On Friday he beat France’s Adrian Mannarino 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 to secure his semifinal spot against Zverev.
Despite losing out on a chance to compete for the cup, the string of victories boosted his world ranking to 66 and has earned him some $220,760 in prize money.
“I’ve been against the wall a couple times this week and I’m very happy I’ve come out several times just playing really good tennis in those situations,” said Shapovalov after his Friday victory. “I think it really shows how I’ve improved mentally, along with just finding my game at the right moments.”
Shapovalov was born in Tel Aviv to parents who had immigrated from the former Soviet Union. His mother Tessa, who has also been his coach for much of his budding career, is Jewish and his father is Greek Orthodox. Te family moved to Canada when he was less than a year old.
His victory over Nadal earned him big headlines in Canada, with the Montreal Gazette declaring, “Star is born.”
Shapovalov battled back after Nadal cruised through the first set, then erased a 3-0 deficit in the tiebreaker for the biggest victory of his career.
Shapovalov became the youngest player to reach the tournament’s quarterfinals since Bjorn Borg in 1974. With hockey great Wayne Gretzky and Olympic swimming star Penny Oleksiak cheering for him from the seats, he also became the youngest quarterfinalist at a Masters Series tournament ever and is the youngest to beat a player ranked in the top two in the world since Nadal beat Federer in 2004 in Miami.
“He played well,” Nadal said. “He has a great potential.
“I wish him the best. He has everything to become a great player. He played with the right determination in the important moments.”