Canadian sensation Denis Shapovalov out to make more history in Madrid

Andrew Hendrie in ATP 12 May 2018
  • Shapovalov is the youngest man to make the Madrid Masters semi-finals
  • The 19-year-old is two wins away from becoming the youngest Masters champion since Rafael Nadal in 2005
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Madrid at bet365 > live streaming > tennis (geo restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)
Denis Shapovalov (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

So much has changed for Denis Shapovalov in the last 12 months - and the teenage talent is far from done as he attempts to make more history at the Madrid Masters.

Watch and bet on Shapovalov vs Zverev live from Madrid at bet365 > live streaming > tennis (geo restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify). Their semi-final begins at 9.00pm local time on Saturday (8.00pm BST).

This time last year, Denis Shapovalov was ranked No. 186 in the world. He was the fifth ranked Canadian and went 0-4 on European clay at Challenger level, losing to the likes of Vincent Millot, James McGee, Marco Cecchinato and Marius Copil. In fact, since turning professional, Shapovalov had won a grand total of TWO matches on European clay - a first round win via retirement over World No. 653 Fernando Romboli in a Futures event in Italy and a three-set victory over World No. 227 Alexandre Sidorenko in the opening round of a Challenger in Moscow, both in 2016.

Shapovalov lost his first two ATP clay-court matches in straight sets over the last few weeks, going down 6-3 6-4 to fellow Next Gen star Stefanos Tsitsipas in the opening round of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, while he also fell 6-2 6-4 to Nikoloz Basilashvili in the first round of Budapest. But something has clicked for the Canadian sensation in the Spanish capital, with Shapovalov reaching his second ATP Masters 1000 semi-final following a series of superb performances.

The 19-year-old has toppled Tennys Sandgren, Benoit Paire, fellow Canadian Milos Raonic and British No. 1 and Australian Open semi-finalist Kyle Edmund to snap his clay drought in emphatic style. Shapovalov is projected to rise from No. 43 to a career-high No. 29 when the new rankings are released on Monday, while he could move to a projected mark of No. 22 if he can beat Alexander Zverev in Saturday’s semi-final clash in Madrid. Should Shapovalov beat Zverev, he would overtake Raonic as the Canadian No. 1.

Denis Shapovalov (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)
It marks more significant strides for Shapovalov, who was ranked No. 250 in the world at the start of 2017. A breakout tournament on the ATP World Tour at his native Montreal Masters well and truly announced Shapovalov as one of the sport’s brightest young talents - beating Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal in the same tournament as a teenager to make a Masters 1000 semi-final will generally do that - but what has been just as impressive is how the Canadian has been able to swiftly establish himself among the game’s elite.

Shapovalov has looked comfortable at this level since leaving Montreal with the spotlight firmly fixed upon himself, and he has made steady progress until bursting to life again in Madrid this week.

"I'm happy again to be in the semi-finals," Shapovalov said. "I never knew when my next time being in a semis would be. I'm more than thrilled to be there. Hopefully I can go even further."

To go further, Shapovalov will need to beat the man who stopped him in his only other Masters 1000 semi-final - fellow young gun and current World No. 3 Alexander Zverev. The German is two years older than Shapovalov, but he knows all about succeeding at this level at a tender age, winning two Masters Series titles as a 20-year-old in Rome and Montreal in 2017.

Zverev is on a seven-match winning streak after claiming the Munich title and has made at least the semi-finals of his last three Masters 1000 tournaments. Shapovalov, already the youngest quarter-finalist in Madrid, can become the youngest Masters 1000 finalist since Richard Gasquet in Hamburg 13 years ago if he prevails.

Does Shapovalov have it in him to create history inside the Caja Magica over the next couple of days (he can also become the youngest Masters champion since Nadal in 2005 if he wins Madrid), or will Zverev’s extra years of experience in these situations prove telling?


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Canadian sensation Denis Shapovalov out to make more history in Madrid

So much has changed for Denis Shapovalov in the last 12 months - and the teenage talent is far from done as he attempts to make more history at the Madrid Masters.

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