Denis Shapovalov def Kyle Edmund 36 63 10 RET
On a frigid Sunday in early February, Denis Shapovalov learned an immensely valuable, publically embarrassing lesson. Just 17-years-old at the time, he was competing in Canada’s deciding rubber against Great Britain. It was a Davis Cup First Round Tie at home in Ottawa. The day prior, he fell in straights to Dan Evans. Teammate Vasek Pospisil had kept the Tie alive with a pair of singles wins, and now the entire weekend rested on Denis’ shoulders. He wasn’t handling it well.
Down 2-sets to none, he was broken in set-3 right before the first changeover. Fueled with frustration, Shapovalov whacked a ball into the stands…but instead of landing softly in the nosebleeds, the ball beaned chair umpire Arnaud Gabas square in the left eye. It was horrific and indefensible. Canada was forced to default the match and lost the Tie. More significantly, a man who depends on his vision to earn a living had to undergo surgery to repair a fractured orbital bone under his left eye.
Fast forward to the US Open
Six months later, Gabas is healthy and back to work, while Denis Shapovalov has become one of the hottest tickets on Tour, as showcased by his wins over both Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal en-route to the Semifinals in Montreal.
Denis’ opponent during that life-lesson in February? Kyle Edmund. On Friday, the two future stars shared a Grand Slam stage for the first time. Kyle lept out to an early lead and took the first set 6-3. Shapovalov leveled the match in the second. Then, five games into the third set, Edmund tweaked his neck and shoulder during a 2nd-serve. Two medical time-outs later, the 22-year-old Brit was done.
At just 18-years-old, Denis continues to roll through his list of career-firsts. On Sunday, he’ll play Pablo Carreno Busta in his first-ever Grand Slam Round of 16 match.
He’ll save hitting balls into the stands until after the match.