Shapovalov Goes Old-School
The 18-year-old Canadian dominated Italian wild card Gianluigi Quinzi at the Fiera Milano, blasting 41 winners to pick up his first victory at the inaugural tournament, 4-1, 4-1, 3-4(5), 4-3(5) in 89 minutes.
Shapovalov is now 1-1 in Milan and will have a chance to reach the semi-finals on Thursday when he faces top seed Andrey Rublev. The winner will advance to the last four.
“It was extremely tough. Gianluigi started playing unbelievable in the third set,” Shapovalov said. “It was tough to stay in it mentally so I'm really proud of myself.”
Shapovalov had dropped his opener, falling on Tuesday to South Korea's Hyeon Chung, who became the first to reach the semi-finals on Wednesday behind a 2-0 start and is the Group A champion. But the Canadian, who counts wins against Juan Martin del Potro, Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga among his best victories this year, had to like his chances against the left-handed Quinzi.
Every time the 21-year-old Italian hit his best shot – his forehand – cross-court, he fed it to Shapovalov's best shot – his forehand. So points often resulted in forehand rallies, a matchup Shapovalov welcomed all evening.
“I knew with my forehand I could dictate most of the court, so I tried to play as many forehands as I could,” Shapovalov said.
Down two sets to love, Quinzi mixed up his tactics in the third set, targeting Shapovalov's backhand. The change helped him mount a comeback and force Shapovalov into a fourth set. But the Canadian avoided a five-setter against the home favourite.
“He did a good job to pin me to the backhand in third and fourth. I found my chances, took them. I was playing well today, playing aggressive,” Shapovalov said.
Quinzi, a former junior World No. 1 who won the 2013 Wimbledon junior boys title, will go for his first win in Milan when he faces Chung on Thursday.
“It was an unbelievable experience for me, because I'm playing with the top guys my age and a little bit younger. Yesterday I played an unbelievable match with Andrey,” Quinzi said.
“So I feel that I'm in this level. But of course, during important points and sometimes physically [I struggle]... Like, today, the first two sets were tough. I mean, I'm a little bit tired and cramping, so... physically and mentally I'm a little bit down.”