Denis Shapovalov won’t be playing into the weekend at this year’s Rogers Cup.
The 19-year-old Canadian suffered a swift third-round loss in Toronto to Robin Haase of the Netherlands on Thursday night. The World No. 39 beat the hometown kid 7-5, 6-2 in a match that lasted just 75 minutes. Shapovalov had been the last Canadian standing in Toronto.
After two dominant matches this week, Shapovalov didn’t look like the same player on Thursday, taken out of his usually assertive game by the 31-year-old Dutch veteran’s game plan.
“He was changing the pace a lot, you know, and playing me pretty slow, actually,” Shapovalov said. “It was pretty windy, so it was tough for me to get behind the balls and play aggressive today. So he played smart in that way.”
The popular teen – now Canada’s top-ranked male at No. 26 in this week’s ATP world rankings − wasn’t the only marquee player eliminated from this US$5.94-million Masters ATP 1000 event in Thursday’s Round of 16.
Four-time Rogers Cup champion Novak Djokovic was also ousted from the singles competition earlier on Thursday. The Wimbledon champ faded late in his humid afternoon match, upset by Greek teenage phenom Stefanos Tsitsipas, who instead earns the quarter-final showdown with reigning tournament champ Alexander Zverev.
American World No. 9 and Wimbledon semi-finalist John Isner was also upset, falling to Russia’s Karen Khachanov, Haase’s next opponent.
Friday’s other quarter-finals will include Grigor Dimitrov against Kevin Anderson and Marin Cilic against the winner of Thursday’s late match between three-time Rogers Cup champ and No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka.
Shapovalov’s Thursday afternoon practice session had been a big draw with fans on site. As he has all week, he hit with veteran Canadian player Frank Dancevic, while the teen’s mother and coach Tessa Shapovalova oversaw. A hefty crowd gathered, clicking photos and relishing the rare chance to see the Canadian rising star that close up. For just a few minutes after practice, he signed autographs, then hopped into a golf cart and rode off down a back path.
The crowd arrived slowly to Centre Court for the match, but eventually it was nearly full.
Shapovalov was facing Haase for the second time. The first had been a victory in three sets for the Canadian in Rome this past spring. As it began, one may have dared to glance at the Rogers Cup draw and imagine an exciting big-name possibility for Friday: a quarter-final between Shapovalov and Isner, which would have been a first between the flashy young Canadian and the 6-foot-10 American.
But it wasn’t to be.
On a breezy night with passing clouds inside Toronto’s Aviva Centre, Haase was the first to convert a break point, taking a 3-2 lead in the first set. Shapovalov immediately broke back, frequently painting the lines with winners as fans hollered “Shap!” and "Shap-O!”
But the Canadian teen then suffered a collapse and let the set fall slip his fingers. Drop shots fell into the net, winners sailed wide, break points slipped away and he looked repeatedly over to his family and team. Haase broke him for a second time, then held serve to steal the first set and silence the crowd.
His first two matches this week had been packed with chances for the teen in the backward hat to holler, pump his fists emphatically and incite the crowd. He had few such opportunities on Thursday night. The second set disappeared quickly.
“I’m sorry I kind of disappointed them today,” said the teen of the Canadian crowd. “But I’ll be stronger next year and, you know, I’m really excited to be back in Montreal next year and be back here in two years.”
Shapovalov didn’t serve well over all in the match, his foot work wasn’t as sharp, and he converted just one of his six break points. He said that nothing about his play on Thursday felt clean. But the youngster was proud that he kept his emotions in check.
“I think for the most part I stayed pretty cool in my head, even though things weren’t going my way,” he said. “Sometimes in these situations, I might just have a meltdown and just get too frustrated with myself, but today I was still trying to find a way throughout the last point. And I still had chances, even though I wasn’t able to convert. But, yeah, I’m happy with that.”