Pablo Carreno Busta def Denis Shapovalov 76(2) 76(4) 76(3)
What Davis Cup incident? With his Round of 16 run at the US Open, Canadian Denis Shapopvalov has become a tennis rock star. The big moments may have been too much for the 18-year-old to handle, but his aggressive focus and all-or-nothing choices on court captivated fans this week in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Truth: At just 18-years-old, Denis Shapovalov became the yougest player to reach the US Open Round of 16 since Michael Chang in 1989 (Chang was 17-years-old…and the reigning French Open champion). The baby-faced Canadian kept fans on the edge of their seats in his three matches played on center court. He deconstructed heavy-favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Round-2. Up 2-sets to one in Round-3, Denis advanced to today’s Round of 16 clash with Pablo Carreno-Busta after 22-year-old Kyle Edmund tweaked his shoulder and cashed it in.
Shapovalov gave himself chances in the 4th-Rounder, but those chances were too tasty. Up a break, serving for the first set, Denis fell behind 0-30, then 15-40. Carreno-Busta finally broke back and stole the set in a breaker (7-2).
More wasted opportunities
In set-2, down a break 4-5, it was Shapovalov’s turn to crank up the heat while Pablo served for the set. He was clutch, smacking fearless forehands to jump ahead 0-40. At 30-40, he crafted his most aristic point of the match, pushing Carreno-Busta back and from side-to-side, then leveling the set with an overhead. Again, it came down to a tiebreak; and again, Pablo handled the pressure with greater poise and precision (7-4).
No surprise, set-3 came down to a tiebreak as well. Again, Denis gave himself flavorful opportunities, but couldn’t make them stick. He broke Pablo in game-two, but gave it up before the second changeover. At 4-all, he pumped himself up by climbing out of a 0-40 hole, winning five consecutive points to remain on serve. But then came the dreaded tiebreak. Pablo leapt ahead 4-0, and earned the win on his 4th match point.
Pablo Carreno Busta and his Temple of Doom
Simply put, Carreno-Busta embraced the big moments. Denis waned under the weight. Pablo enjoyed the Shapovalov show as much as the fans in Ashe, but like Indiana Jones in the Raiders of the Lost Arc, Carreno-Busta calmly whipped out his pistol in the tiebreaks and dropped the Shapovalov sword-play with a single shred of lead.
Next up for the Spaniard:  Lucas Pouille, who ended Rafael Nadal’s run here last year, or 5’7″ Diego Schwarzman of Argentina, who upset 2014 US Open Champ Marin Cilic in this year’s 3rd-Round.
The reality is, as much attention as Denis Shapovalov has received, Pablo Carreno-Busta is enjoying a hell of a season. He reached his first Grand Slam Quarterfinal back in June with a 5th-set victory over Milos Raonic at Roland Garros. We’ll see if he can score another career-first on Tuesday, and reach his first Major Semifinal. Don’t be surprised should Pablo crack the ATP’s top-10 come September 11th. He has plenty of ammunition.