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Canadian Denis Shapovalov ousted in Rogers Cup tennis semifinals


Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont.,. waves to the crowd as he walks off the court after losing to Alexander Zverev on Saturday night in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Paul Chiasson / THE CANADIAN PRESS

MONTREAL — Alexander Zverev ended a dream week for 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov with a 6-4, 7-5 victory in the semifinals of the Rogers Cup on Saturday night.

The fourth-seeded Zverev, seeking a second tournament title in as many weeks, advanced to the final on Sunday against second-seeded Roger Federer, a 6-3, 7-6(5) winner over unseeded Robin Haase of the Netherlands. Federer holds a 2-1 edge in career meetings with the German, including a victory on grass in June.

Zverev stretched his match winning run to nine.

Shapovalov, who was playing Challenger-level tournaments only two weeks ago, became the youngest player to reach a Masters 1000 Series tournament with a winning run this week that included knocking off top seed Rafael Nadal and 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro.

It will raise his world ranking from 143rd to about 66th. He also earned $220,760 U.S., more than doubling his career prize money.

Flag-waving fans in the packed grandstands at Uniprix Stadium had hoped for more magic in the battle of youngsters against the 20-year-old Zverev, but the German was too sharp, winning 81 per cent of the points off his serve compared to 64 per cent for Shapovalov.

Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ont., held his serve through a more than 14-minute game early on, but lost it to go down 4-5 in the opening set, double faulting on break point. It was the fourth time in five matches he lost the first set, but this time there was no coming back.

He wasted two break points at 4-3 in the second, and Zverev was able to get the break for 6-5 after two Shapovalov double faults. It set up a wild final game, with Shapovalov saving two match points and Zverev erasing three break points before it ended with a misfired backhand by the Canadian.

Federer reached his sixth final of the year, and will be seeking a sixth win.

He had considering skipping the event, which would have been disastrous for the promoters with world No. 1 Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka already out with injuries. However, Federer decided to play and now has a chance to add to a tally that includes Australian Open and Wimbledon titles this year.

“I’m very happy that I’ve made it here,” he said. “It was a good decision for me.

“If I would have known I would have gone to the finals, I would have said ‘yes’ right away. Sometimes you’ve just got to wait and see how you feel. I’m most happy that I’m actually really healthy going into the finals. I haven’t wasted too much energy. I’ve been able to keep points short. I’ve been really clean at net. I think my concentration and just my playing has gone up a notch. I’m just playing better.”

The second-seeded Federer is seeking a third Rogers Cup title, but his first in Montreal, having won in 2004 and 2006 in Toronto. A victory would give Federer, currently ranked third in the world, one of the top two seeds at the U.S. Open that begins Aug. 28 in New York.

The 36-year-old, coming off victories in Germany and at Wimbledon, is on a 16-match winning streak, his longest since 2012.

Haase, who upset seventh-seeded Grigor Dimitrov in the third round, was in his first career semifinal of a Masters Series tournament.

“I hope it gives me a lot of confidence,” Haase said of his performance for the week. “Next week (in Cincinnati), different conditions, different courts, so it’s tournament by tournament. But, in general, to make an achievement like this is good because it shows you can do it.”

In a semifinals, seventh-seeded Rohan Bopanna of India and Ivan Dodig of Croatia defeated sixth-seeded Raven Klaasen of the Netherlands and Rajeev Ram of the United States 4-6, 7-6 (8), 11-9; and fifth-seeded Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut of France downed eighth-seeded Oliver Marach of Austria and Mate Pavic of Croatia 7-5, 6-3.

— Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press



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