Denis Shapovalov pumped his left fist in celebration on Thursday as he booked his place in the Australian Open third round for the first time. The 19-year-old #NextGenATP Canadian recorded the 50th tour-level match win of his career (50-42) with victory over Taro Daniel of Japan 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-3 in two hours and eight minutes.
Shapovalov, the No. 25 seed, will next challenge World No. 1 and six-time former champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia or French wild card Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The pair contested the 2008 Australian Open final, which represented Djokovic’s first of 14 Grand Slam championship crowns. Shapovalov has not met Djokovic, but is 1-1 in major championship meetings against Tsonga.
Shapovalov broke Daniel in the eighth game of the first set, then saved break points at 1-1 and 4-4 in the second set, before taking control early in the tie-break. In breaking Daniel for a 3-1 lead in the third set, Shapovalov then recovered from 15/40 in the next game. Overall, the World No. 27 struck 43 winners, including 16 aces in his first encounter against Daniel.
“I think it was another exceptional match for me,” said Shapovalov. “I’m really happy to get through that in straight sets. I wasn’t expecting that, to be honest. I felt in the second set he had a couple chances. I was able to play some big tennis. I’m really proud today. After I got that tie-break in the second set, I knew that the momentum was kind of with me, so I just tried to stay on it.”
Another 19-year-old making waves at Melbourne Park, Australian wild card Alexei Popyrin, also booked his place in the third round for the first time on his second Grand Slam championship appearance (also 2018 Australian Open). The World No. 149, who beat Germany’s Mischa Zverev on Tuesday, was leading 7-5, 6-4, 2-0 when seventh-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem retired due to injury.
Popyrin will now prepare to challenge French No. 28 seed Lucas Pouille, who knocked out Maximilian Marterer of Germany 7-6(8), 7-6(8), 5-7, 6-4 in three hours and 22 minutes. Pouille saved one set point at 6/7 in the first set tie-break and two set points at 5/6 and 7/8 in the second set tie-break.