Denis Shapovalov: The Next Tennis Great?

It’s a fallacy that young professional tennis talents struggle with pressure and nerves more than experienced players. Most of the gifted teens have mental advantages. They have skills and power, and know that they no one expects them to beat high-ranked players in top tournaments. Rather than worry about anything, a teenager can swing freely and apply pressure—and on their best days, win historic upsets.

On Thursday evening in Montreal, 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov beat Rafael Nadal 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) for the biggest victory of his young career. He’s left-handed with a strong serve, a one-handed backhand, and a forehand that he hits hard and deep. And no matter the score against Nadal, Shapovalov played aggressive. He even trailed 3-0 in the third set tiebreaker, before pummeling Nadal 7-points-to-1 the rest of the way.

Shapovalov, who will play in the quarterfinals Friday evening, is the youngest quarterfinalist in an ATP Masters 1000 tournament since these events began in 1990. He’s also the youngest player in a Rogers Cup quarterfinal…

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