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By Chris Oddo | Saturday August 12, 2017

Alexander Zverev is just two years senior of breakout star Denis Shapovalov, but the German is way ahead of the blossoming Canadian in big-match experience on the ATP Tour. Zverev drew upon that experience on Saturday night to end the sensational run of his 18-year-old opponent, notching a convincing 6-4, 7-5 win and setting a final clash with Roger Federer.


In defeating Shapovalov, Zverev did what Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro had failed to do. He defused some of Shapovalov’s aggression with stellar defense and he produced a high level of consistency and physicality that the southpaw could not match.

Still there was an impressive element of never-say-die in Shapovalov’s game. Even after he fell behind by a set and a break early in the second set he never wavered and never even seemed to doubt that not only was he good enough to lock horns with the German, he was good enough to win.

Buoyed by a captivated, rowdy Montreal night session crowd, Shapovalov found his way back into the match in the second set. He recovered a the break quickly and earned himself a triple-break point with Zverev serving at 3-4 in the second set.

This was when the intestinal fortitude of Zverev shone brightest. He recovered from the precipice, winning a mammoth rally at 15-40 with his physical superiority, and eventually went on to claim a break for 6-5 when Shapovalov—for the third time in the evening—double-faulted a break away.

But even that couldn’t make the Canadian go away. He saved two match points in a 16-point final game with Zverev serving for the match before the German finally finished off the upstart to notch his 45th win of 2017.

After the match Zverev showed respect for a job well done by Shapovalov and the Canadian fans, gesturing to Shapovalov and urging the fans to applaud him for his job well done.


Germany's top player echoed those sentiments in press, elaborating on what he felt could be the beginning of a solid rivalry.

"I told him he had a great run, well done to him, to not worry too much that he lost today," said Zverev. "I also told him that this is just the first match of very, very many that we will play against him. Hopefully a lot of other big matches, maybe in Grand Slams, maybe in finals of tournaments. I just told him that this is the beginning for him."

Shapovalov entered the week with three ATP wins to his name and proceeded to more than double that total in five days. He defeated a 15-time major champion in Nadal, another former Grand Slam champion in Del Potro and saved four match points in the first round. All the while Shapovalov won the adoration of the local fans and dealt with the newfound fame and pressure that goes with it quite admirably.

It’s hard not to wonder where Shapovalov might be in two year’s time. Will he be able to consistently reproduce the inspired tennis when the fatigue of the tour sets in?

It’s something that Zverev has already done quite well. Only Rafael Nadal (47) has more wins than the 20-year-old this season, and with his win tonight Zverev became the youngest Coupe Rogers finalist since 2007, when Novak Djokovic won the title.

Zverev owns a 1-2 lifetime edge against Federer, and he knows he’ll need to be at his very best if he is to defeat the resurgent Swiss in Sunday's final.

"I think he's definitely the favourite," Zverev said. “ I played in five finals this year. I won four. The one that I lost was against Roger. There's a reason for it. I'm happy to be in the final. I'll try to enjoy as much as I can."

 

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