Rafael Nadal falls in Montreal thriller to 18-year-old upcoming star

Denis Shapovalov stunned Rafael Nadal in front of his home crowd in 2017

by Jovica Ilic
Rafael Nadal falls in Montreal thriller to 18-year-old upcoming star

Rafael Nadal made a convincing start at the 2017 Canada Masters in Montreal. The Spaniard lost three games against Borna Coric in the second round before facing another youngster in the third. An 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov shined in front of the home fans and toppled one of the greatest players ever 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 in two hours and 45 minutes!

Thus, Denis became the youngest Masters 1000 quarter-finalist and the second-youngest player with a win over Nadal after Borna Coric in Basel 2014. World no. 143 and the upcoming star threw everything at the Spaniard. Denis played brave and aggressive tennis, keeping the points on his racquet after landing 49 winners and 41 unforced errors.

On the other hand, Rafa had 18 winners and 29 mistakes. He struggled to find the rhythm but stood close to the finish line after creating six break chances in the final set and leading 3-0 in the tie break. Nothing could separate the rivals in the quickest exchanges, and Nadal had a slim edge in the longer ones.

Still, Shapovalov made a massive impact with his forehand, outplaying Nadal in that area and keeping his backhand safe enough to endure the exchanges. Rafa served at 57%, facing six break chances and giving serve away two times.

Denis Shapovalov prevailed over Rafael Nadal in Montreal 2017 at 18.

A three-time champion claimed 37% of the return points. Rafa earned 11 break opportunities but converted only two, which cost him dearly. Nadal sailed through the opening set despite serving at 46%, keeping Shapovalov out of the rhythm and breaking him at 4-3.

Rafa clinched 12 of the final 13 points and wrapped up the set 6-3, gaining a boost and hoping for more in the second. Denis raised his level in the second set, creating all six break chances in this part of the encounter and breaking Nadal in game two.

Shapovalov forged a 4-1 advantage and missed another pair of opportunities in game six. Suddenly, Nadal broke back a few minutes later and became the favorite to bring the match home in straight sets and move just a win away from the no.

1 spot. Instead, Shapovalov showed guts and clutch and delivered another break at 5-4 to seal the set and force a decider in front of a partisan crowd. The more experienced player was more dangerous on the return in the first part of the decider, but that did not bring him the advantage.

The youngster refused to surrender after fending off six break points, including ten deuces in marathon game three! They served well in the last seven games to send the action into a deciding tie break, keeping the crowd on the edge of their seats.

Nadal forged a 3-0 lead before hitting a double fault to bring Denis back. The Canadian fired a forehand winner to take a 5-4 lead and gain a boost. Rafa netted an easy forehand in the next point to give his rival two match points.

Shapovalov cracked another forehand down the line winner on the first to move over the top and fall to the ground in disbelief.

Rafael Nadal Denis Shapovalov