Rafael Nadal's poster goes down, as Denis Shapovalov starts bromance

Denis Shapovalov stunned Rafael Nadal in Montreal six years ago

by Jovica Ilic
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Rafael Nadal's poster goes down, as Denis Shapovalov starts bromance

Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime have been the most prominent Canadian players for years. Two super talented stars have known each other for years, and Denis stayed in Felix's house during the home 2017 Montreal Masters 1000 event.

Auger-Aliassime kept Rafael Nadal's poster on the wall, and he had to take it down the day Shapovalov faced a great champion in front of the home fans! 18-year-old stunned three-time Canada Masters champion 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 in two hours and 45 minutes, scoring a memorable victory and becoming the youngest Masters 1000 quarter-finalist!

World no. 143 threw everything he had at Nadal, playing brave and aggressive tennis and keeping the points on his racquet after firing 49 winners and 41 unforced errors. On the other hand, Rafa stayed on 18 winners and 29 mistakes, never finding his best tennis and still having a chance to bring the victory home.

Rafa created six break points in the decider and led 3-0 in the tie break, only to finish on the losing side. Nothing could separate the rivals in the shortest points, and Nadal had a slim edge in the longer ones. Denis made a massive impact with his forehand, outplaying Rafa in the best shot for both players and keeping his backhand safe enough to endure the exchanges.

Nadal served at 57% and played below his standards, facing six break chances and losing serve two times. The Spaniard won 37% of the return points, creating 11 break opportunities and converting only two to keep Shapovalov in contention.

Rafa sailed through the opening set despite serving at 46%, as the Canadian failed to find the rhythm on the return. Nadal grabbed a break in game eight and rattled off 12 of the final 13 points for 6-3 and a boost.

18-year-old Denis Shapovalov stunned Rafael Nadal in Montreal 2017.

Denis raised his level in the second set.

He created all six break opportunities in this part of the match and broke Nadal in game two en route to a 4-1 advantage. Nadal fended off a pair of break points in the sixth game to remain within one break deficit before breaking back a few minutes later, becoming a favorite to bring the victory home.

Instead, Shapovalov showed the real clutch and earned another break in game ten to seal the set 6-4 and arrange a decider. The more experienced player was more dangerous on the return in the first part of the set and should have taken the lead at that stage.

Denis refused to surrender! The young gun overcame six break chances and ten deuces in the marathon game three to stay alive. They both served well in the final seven games and set a deciding tie break. Nadal had a 3-0 lead before hitting a double fault to bring Shapovalov back into contention.

The home star gained a boost and fired a forehand winner to take a 5-4 advantage. Rafa netted an easy forehand in the next point to offer his rival two match points. Denis seized the first with another cracking forehand winner that sent him into the quarter-final, starting a massive celebration in front of the home crowd.

"I was staying with Felix Auger-Aliassime at his house, and I woke up the morning of the match, and there was a poster of Rafa right there. I made a joke and said, 'It's gotta go.' Felix had taken it off the wall when I came home after beating Rafa. A little bit of bromance began right there," Denis Shapovalov said.

Rafael Nadal Denis Shapovalov
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