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By Chris Oddo | Friday August 11, 2017

Oh, Canada!

The improbable run of 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov continued at full-throttle on Friday night at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal as the talented southpaw navigated another tricky battle and eventually emerged with a hard-fought 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over France’s Adrian Mannarino.

With the win Shapovalov becomes the youngest player to ever reach a Masters 1000 semifinal, and at No.143 in the world he is the lowest-ranked player to reach the mast four at a Masters 1000 event since 2003.

But that ranking will change significantly thanks to the Ontario native’s run of four consecutive victories in Montreal. He is set to rise inside the Top 70 and could go higher if he defeats Alexander Zverev in Saturday’s semifinals.

Shapovalov entered the tournament with three ATP wins to his name; he has won four matches this week, including upsets of Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal, but he would not be all the rage in Canada if he had not saved four match points to get past Brazil’s Rogerio Dutra Silva in the first round.

“I’ve been against the wall a couple times this week. I'm very happy I've come out several times just playing really good tennis in those situations," Shapovalov said. "I think it really shows how I've improved mentally along with just finding my game at the right moments."

The 18-year-old will face another #NextGenATP star in Zverev on Saturday. Two years Shapovalov’s senior, the German has been on the move for a while and is coming into his own in 2017. He won the Rome Masters event by defeating Novak Djokovic in the final and become the youngest Masters 1000 finalist winner in over a decade. On Friday he methodically picked apart hard-hitting Kevin Anderson to reach his seventh semifinal of the season, 7-5, 6-4.

The German converted three of five break points and wiggled out of trouble in the second set with Anderson angling for a break with Zverev serving at 4-3. He would hold, and clinch the match with his ninth ace two games later.

His semifinal with Shapovalov promises to be an entertaining affair. The Canadian has worked his home crowd to a frenzy in each of his four matches and Zverev will have to contend with that. But the 20-year-old is a fit and focused athlete who will enter with an eight-match winning streak and a mission to keep a young competitor in his place.

Meanwhile Shapovalov will hope to continue to catch lightning in a bottle. He’s done pretty good at it all week, harnessing the energy of the crowd in victories over former Grand Slam champion Del Potro and living legend Nadal. He’s displayed courage, moxie and an affinity for the big moments on the big stage.

Win or lose, he’ll take his shots and do his best to ruffle the feathers of Zverev.


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