Monday, March 1

Denis Shapovalov advances to third round at Rogers Cup after brief Twitter outburst


First, another emphatic victory for Denis Shapovalov at the Rogers Cup.

Then, an apology from the 19-year-old tennis star.

Bouts of rain played havoc with the schedule on Wednesday, and Shapovalov, originally slated to play Fabio Fognini on centre court, was pushed to the grand stand court, which has a smaller capacity.

In a fit of pique, Shapovalov sarcastically tweeted “Got moved to grand stand,” followed by an emoji of clapping hands and #welldone and #homeevent. The tweet wasn’t up long, as Shapovalov deleted it soon after.

The location of Shapovalov’s match didn’t matter, as he beat Fognini 6-3, 7-5 to advance to the third round.

“First of all, I just want to apologize to the fans and friends that weren’t able to see me (play),” said Shapovalov, who had said on Tuesday that he wanted to put on a show in the tournament for his fans.

“I just know how many friends wanted to come out and how many fans were looking forward to seeing me on centre court this week. And, unfortunately, with the rain delay, it got moved to grand stand. So it was a little bit disappointing in that sense.

“But the crowd on grand stand, I think it helped me a lot because it was so ecstatic, so energetic because it’s so compact, that it actually bothered Fognini quite a bit, especially toward the end. It worked in my favour.”

There was frustration for Fognini, who had some words for Shapovalov during one changeover. Later, Shapovalov told reporters he didn’t know what was said.

Shapovalov, ranked No. 26 in the world, had to dig in against the No. 14 Fognini after going down 0-4 in the second set.

“I was just preparing for the (possible) third set trying to get a rhythm,” Shapovalov said. “And then once I got that one break, I told myself, ‘Okay, let’s keep fighting and maybe you’ll have a chance to break him again.’

“I just picked my level up. I kind of loosened up. When I was down 4-0, I was just missing the balls by a little bit. It was actually pretty close. I knew I was able to come back.

“It was extremely satisfying to win that set, not having to go into a third set.”

Shapovalov will take on Robin Haase of the Netherlands, ranked No. 39 in the world, on Thursday, but not before 6:30 p.m. In the only career meeting between the two, Shapovalov beat Haase on the clay in Rome in May at the Italian Open.

Shapovalov acknowledged the tweet he had sent during the day, saying “it came out the wrong way, which is why I deleted it. It was nothing against anyone. It was just disappointment from my part that these fans that have waited the whole year to watch me weren’t able to see me this year. Luckily, they’ll have a chance (on Thursday).”

Shapovalov has made significant strides since taking Montreal by storm a year ago, advancing to the semifinals where he lost to Alexander Zverev.

Shapovalov is feeling similarities to what he experienced last summer when he made the charge in Montreal.

“Definitely,” Shapovalov said. “My game is at a very high level right now. I think having my mom (Tessa) on the side has helped in the last couple of weeks.

“I’ve really picked up my game. I’m really happy with where I am right now.”

In the bigger picture, Shapovalov is glad several young players are carrying the torch for the generation.

“It’s unbelievable where the tennis level is at now,” Shapovalov said. “Every week you’ll have crazy matches, and it’s a really exciting time of tennis.

“I feel like the young generation, we all kind of push each other because we’re all so motivated. We’re young. We want to play every week and do better than each other.”


Rafael Nadal breezed past Benoit Paire at the Rogers Cup on Wednesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS

NADAL MAKES QUICK WORK OF PAIRE

Rafael Nadal gave himself a passing grade in his first match since losing in the semifinals at Wimbledon.

The top-ranked men’s tennis player on the planet, following a first-round bye at the Rogers Cup, beat Benoit Paire of France 6-2, 6-3 on Wednesday night to advance to the third round.

“I was not at my 100%,” Nadal said.

“After a while, you need matches. It’s true that I did good work here the last five days (in preparation), but at the same time, it’s true that I didn’t work very hard at home (before heading to Toronto). I just did the basics to come back to the competition.

“In the second set I had some troubles, but my return worked well. And it was not about the serve. It was more about the mistakes from the baseline, in my opinion.

“The first match is important. It’s an important victory for me, for my confidence.”

Nadal is in search of his fourth Rogers Cup title. His most recent victory in the tournament championship came in 2013, also the previous time he reached the final.

tkoshan@postmedia.com

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