Canadian Denis Shapovalov advances to U.S. Open round of 16 after gritty comeback win

Denis Shapovalov rallied to beat American Taylor Fritz 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 in the third round of the U.S. Open on Friday, continuing a promising tournament for Canadian men.

The comeback victory means the No. 12 seed from Richmond Hill, Ont., will at least match his best performance at the Grand Slam. Shapovalov also reached the fourth round in his U.S. Open debut in 2017 after getting in as a qualifier.

Shapovalov will face No. 7 seed David Goffin of Belgium in this year’s round of 16.

After the 19th-seeded Fritz missed a chance to serve out the match in the fourth set, Shapovalov recorded the lone mini-break on the final point of the tiebreak to force a fifth and final set at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The Canadian broke Fritz to go up 2-0 in the fifth set, and then did so again to finish off Fritz.

It was a roller-coaster match.

Shapovalov lost four service games in a row during the third and fourth sets against Fritz after going up a break early in the third.

Shapovalov, 21, took his frustration out on his racket as momentum shifted in the third set, smashing it three times in a row on the court after one point. He did bounce back after that with a new racket, breaking Fritz, but then lost his serve in the next game to drop the set.

Shapovalov’s record in the pandemic-interrupted year is now 8-8. He hadn’t strung together consecutive victories this year before the opening two rounds of this year’s Grand Slam in New York.

The left-hander is now 3-0 lifetime against the 22-year-old Fritz.

Canadian men making noise

Shapovalov is one of a record three Canadian men to make the third round of a Grand Slam this week. No. 15 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal and unseeded Vasek Pospisil of Vancouver are scheduled to play their third-round matches Saturday.

After winning his first 24 points when he got his first serve in, Fritz finally stumbled late in the second set.

Fritz didn’t win a point on a game with serve, putting Shapovalov up 5-3. The Canadian proceeded to fall behind 0-40 while serving to try to win the set, but then won five points in a row — highlighted by a drop volley after a long rally at deuce — to tie the match.

Auger-Aliassime, meanwhile, will come into his third-round match Saturday with more time off than his opponent, world No. 77 Corentin Moutet of France.

Moutet’s second-round match with No. 23 seed Dan Evans was suspended because of inclement weather on Thursday before the Frenchman prevailed 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (1) on Friday.

Auger-Aliassime, 20, is coming off an impressive 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 victory over three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray of Great Britain on Thursday night.

“I’ve just looked down the list of all the young stars — [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, [Alexander] Zverev, [Daniil] Medvedev, Shapovalov,” Tim Henman, the former British No. 1, told Amazon Prime. “I really believe that this guy is in a different class to all of them.”

Pospisil, ranked 94th, faces No. 8 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain.

Bautista Agut is 3-0 lifetime against Pospisil, who upset fellow Canadian Milos Raonic in the second round.

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Johny Watshon

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