Canadian teen Shapovalov gets taste of US Open nightlife
NEW YORK (AP) Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov got a little taste of late-night life at the U.S. Open along the way to knocking off No. 8 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
During the 69th-ranked Shapovalov's 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (3) victory under the lights in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday night that put him in the third round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, the 18-year-old qualifier said he chatted a bit with some, um, overzealous spectators.
''I noticed a couple of guys had a little bit too much to drink. I mean, some of them were standing and, like, just talking to me as if we're buddies. I was up a break in one game, I think it was probably 40-15, I just miss a backhand. (One fan is) like, `Aaaaah. No!' I'm like, `Don't worry, man. I got this,''' Shapovalov recounted with a smile.
''I mean, I was just taking it all in,'' he continued.
''Like I said, it's a dream come true to me to play a night match over here on Arthur Ashe. So for me, it was fun. Obviously it's not easy to play under these conditions. But I managed to put a positive spin on it.''
Shapovalov is almost exactly 14 years younger than Tsonga, a Frenchman who was the runner-up at the 2008 Australian Open.
This is part of quite a run for Shapovalov, who earlier this month beat Rafael Nadal on a hard court in Montreal while becoming the youngest semifinalist at a Masters tournament.
Shapovalov's first major tournament came last month at Wimbledon, where he lost in the first round. He was the junior champion at the All England Club a year ago.
The only near-slip for Shapovalov against Tsonga came in the third set, when the left-hander served for the match at 5-4 and got broken for the first time all match.
But Shapovalov steadied himself and came through in the tiebreaker, finishing with 28 winners to 19 unforced errors.
''I don't think I was always mentally solid as I am today. I've been working extremely hard on it. ... I think it's improved quite a bit,'' he said. ''It also helps I've been in these situations constantly, playing these top guys. ... It's a little bit easier the second time around and third time around. You get used to these situations.''
Next up for Shapovalov is a match against Kyle Edmund of Britain. When they faced each other in the Davis Cup in February, Shapovalov was defaulted and fined $7,000 for hitting a ball in anger that struck the chair umpire in the face and broke a bone under his left eye.
That episode, Shapovalov said, ''definitely helped me mature.''
Then he added: ''But I don't think this match has anything to do with it. I've apologized constantly before, and I continue to apologize for my actions. It's something I have to live with. But for me it's in the past and I'm a different person and a different player now. So it's a completely new match.''
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