Denis Shapovalov became the youngest man in 10 years to reach the US Open third round Wednesday and credited his breakthrough to being defaulted from a Davis Cup tie for firing a ball into an umpire’s eye.
The 18-year-old Canadian qualifier stunned French eighth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(3), a victory which followed a win over Rafael Nadal at the Rogers Cup in Montreal earlier in August. However, despite his breakthrough in Montreal, he didn’t receive a main draw wild card at the US Open and had to take his place in the main draw after getting through the qualifiers.
He goes on to face Britain’s Kyle Edmund on Friday for a place in the last-16.
However, it will be a match-up which brings back painful memories of the pair’s meeting in the Davis Cup World Group first round in February when Shapovalov was defaulted for hitting a ball at umpire Arnaud Gabas.
The Canadian youngster was fined $7,000 (Rs 44, 777) for the incident even though it was deemed to be unintentional.
Despite the official escaping serious injury, Shapovalov was disqualified and Britain won the tie.
But he believes the controversy has helped fire him into the tennis headlines for the right reasons.
“I’ve been working extremely hard on it. It’s definitely helped me mature,” said the world No 69.
“I continue to apologize for my actions. It’s something I have to live with. But for me it’s in the past and I’m a different person and a different player now. So it’s a completely new match.”
Shapovalov is the youngest man in the third round of a Grand Slam since Bernard Tomic at the 2011 Australian Open and at the US Open since Donald Young in 2007.