Shapovalov: 'I feel like I belong out there this year'
Raonic falls in the fourth again
Canadian players had a very respectable showing at the final Grand Slam of the season. Leading the charge was Milos Raonic, who made the fourth round before being eliminated by John Isner. Raonic also lost to Isner at Wimbledon, tearing a muscle in his leg in the process. In New York, the 27-year-old was treated for a hip injury in the late stages of the match. There was opportunity in the draw with Rafael Nadal playing injured and Roger Federer getting eliminated by John Millman, but Flushing Meadows continued to be a frustration for Raonic. This year marks the fourth time he’s lost in the fourth round of the tournament. It should be noted that Raonic had a very solid win in the third round over Stan Wawrinka, who had been playing very well since returning from his own injury. Since Raonic had no points to defend from last year’s tournament, he shot back up the rankings and is now in the top 20 again. He only played one tournament last fall, so he has a real shot in getting back in the top 15.
Shapovalov fitting right in
Denis Shapovalov passed his first big test in his first full year on the ATP Tour, defending his ranking throughout the season to remain in the top 35. With his 2017 summer run in the rear-view mirror, Shapovalov responded with back-to-back third-round appearances in Toronto and New York to end the North American hardcourt swing on the cusp of Grand Slam seeding. The 19-year old beat his good friend Felix Auger-Aliassime in the opening round and then played back-to-back five-set matches – beating Andreas Seppi in the second round before being eliminated by Kevin Anderson in the third. Shapovalov pushed the No. 5 seed to the limit in an exciting match but went 0-for-5 on break points in the crucial deciding set. Shapovalov will now set his sights on the Asian hardcourt swing and Next-Gen finals in Milan.
Bouchard back on the rise
Eugenie Bouchard equalled her Wimbledon result at the US Open, winning three matches in qualifying and her first-round match, but falling in the second round to 19-year old Marketa Vondrousova. Bouchard was actually a favourite in the match and seemed to be playing more confident tennis after four straight wins, but was outmatched in the loss. This was her first tournament in Flushing Meadows since her settlement with the USTA was agreed upon. Now that the incident is behind her, Canadian tennis fans are hopeful she can regain her form. The 24-year-old lost in the first round of the Chicago WTA event this week and will soon head overseas for the Asian hardcourt swing. Her ranking has risen from No. 194 to No. 113.
Health concerns for Felix
Making his Grand Slam debut, 18-year old Felix Auger-Aliassime successfully went through qualifying and reached the main draw. His progress may not have been as quick as his good friend Denis Shapovalov, but he has arrived on the scene and the hype appears justified. Oddly enough, Auger-Aliassime was placed in the draw to face Shapovalov in the first round. They were en route to a Canadian Classic before the younger of the two was forced to retire with a heart rate complication. The pair split the first two sets but then Auger-Aliassime’s heart began beating too fast. Although he tried to play on, it was best for his health to stop. It has been an issue for him in the past so this is a worrying sign for one of the best young players in the world. He has such a bright future ahead of him and it would a shame for this health concern to limit his rise up the rankings.
Nestor reaches finish line
It was the final ATP and Grand Slam event for the most decorated tennis player in Canadian history. Daniel Nestor, who first played the US Open in 1993, was eliminated in the first round with his teammate Bradley Klahn in straight sets and said goodbye to the professional tour. Now 46, Nestor paved the way for many Canadian tennis players with an incredible resume that includes eight Grand Slam doubles titles, four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles, 91 ATP doubles titles and a gold medal from the 2000 Olympics. Nestor still has one final send-off next weekend in Toronto where he will represent his country in Davis Cup. He will join a star-studded lineup that includes Raonic, Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime and Vasek Pospisil as Canada takes on the Netherlands in the final Davis Cup event before the format changes next year.