Carreno-Busta ends Shapovalov’s dream
Every top player has a debut tournament where an outstanding run lifted him or her into the higher rankings and bade bye bye to qualifying rounds. For Canadian Denis Shapovalov, it was Montreal 2017. Although his performance took his ranking from 206 to 67 at the end of that tournament, the elevation came after the draws had been made for the US Open. He had to play three rounds before making the main draw.
Shapovalov’s run through three rounds at Flushing Meadows stood him out as the player to watch. Many fans routed for him to go far but the hope was terminated by Spanish player Pablo Carreno-Busta who outclassed him in three tie breaks.
Each of the sets lasted exactly 58 minutes of a classic show in which both players held serves. There was a glimmer of hope that Shapovalov would take the third set. He won the eleventh game on his serve. Pablo needed to hold but fell behind 15-30. The next (point) was crucial both ways and it was fought in a long rally that ended in favour of the Spaniard. He escaped the break.
In the ensuing tie break in the third set, Denis lost the first point on his serve. Pablo consolidated the mini-break to lead 3-0 in points. Again, the Canadian lost his first service point but won the second for a 4-1 tally. Pablo held his next service point to lead 5-1 at the changeover and took the second to lead 6-1. Although Denis won his next two service points, it was a surge too late. Pablo clinched his two service points to seal the match and shatter the dream of Denis and his many supporters.
Denis Shapovalov has a presence on court. Standing tall, with blond hair held in baseball cap pointing backwards, how could we fail to recall others before him, such as Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt? Most of all, can we fail to mention the legendary John McEnroe, who, 40 years ago, also played through the qualifying rounds into the 1977 Wimbledon Main Draw all the way to the semi-finals? Also, in the 20th year of the Arthur Ashe Stadium we recall how Venus Williams debuted and made it all the way to the finals before losing to Martina Hingis.
The older (Williams) sister is in a Cinderella run as the world received the news that her younger sister delivered a baby girl.
It is Denis Shapovalov’s similarity to John McEnroe that got many rooting for him. A fellow southpaw, he used his leftie serve to great advantage. Joe-Wilfried Tsonga would remember the damage done by the wide swinging serve that he returned to the waiting hands of Denis for the finishing punch of a volley at the net. Thus, Shapovalov was considered as the attainment of the yearning for a serve-and-volley player who will handle the boring game of base-line sluggers.
The second week of the Open rolls off with the confirmation of pundits’ prediction for a wild wide tournament. The lower half of the Men’s Draw is deplete of many top seeds while the first and third seeds march on for a possible semifinal clash. The credit for such a “final before the Final” must go to Andy Murray, for his last minute withdrawal at the last minute when the rules did not allow the juggling of the seeding slots.