Second Canadian Teen, Denis Shapovalov Reaches Miami Open Final Four, Will Face Federer
(March 28, 2019) MIAMI, FL – A second Canadian teen has reached the final four of the Miami Open. Denis Shapovalov, 19, came back past Frances Tiafoe of the U.S. 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2 in a rain-delayed match moved over to the Grandstand. Shapovalov will face No. 4 Roger Federer in the semifinals on Friday night. Federer, in his quest for a fourth Miami trophy, blew past Kevin Anderson 6-0, 6-4 in the night session.
Shapovalov joins his countryman and good friend Felix Auger-Aliassime, who reached the semifinals against defending champion John Isner on Wednesday.
“It’s kind of crazy to share this with Felix,” he said. “I was just thinking in the locker room how far back we go, and from the national groupings when we were 8 and 9 years old, so it’s so crazy to see how far we have come.
“And at such a young age, I feel like both of us have such of bright future ahead of us. It’s really great to see him doing well. Honestly, it’s not a shocker for me that he’s gone this far, that he’s doing so well.
“Like I have been saying for a couple years now, it was just a matter of time with Felix, you know, being healthy and just playing well at the right time. I see, first of all, how talented he is and how talented he was from a young age. But it’s not only that. He could be so talented, but I have never seen someone work as hard as him.
“He’s so professional about how he goes about his things, from the morning to when he sleeps at night. He’s always thinking like a pro athlete. So honestly, I kind of look up to him in that sense. You know, I feel like he’s always on top of those things. It’s just great to see.
“In terms of playing Roger, yeah, it’s definitely a matchup I have been looking forward to, I think, my whole life. It’s going to be a dream come true to play him in such a big event over here, and the stakes are so high, semifinal match of a Masters 1000 against your idol. It’s just a dream come true.”
“I’m really happy with how the week’s gone so far, so I’m just going to go out there, enjoy myself, just have a good time on the court and give it my all. You know, that’s all I can ask at this point.
“Obviously Roger is a really tough opponent, so it’s going to be a really difficult match. I’m just happy to kind of have the chance to play him here in the semis. Yeah, that’s pretty much it. I’m going to go out there, fight for every point, and see what I can do.”
The Canadian will move into the Top 20, a career-high, when the new rankings come out next week. He and Auger-Aliassime have become the first pair of teenagers to reach a Masters Series semifinal at the same time since 2007 when Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic did it in 2007.
Roger Federer won the first eight games of the match against South African Kevin Anderson, but the second set tightened up when Anderson broke Federer’s serve to level the set. The marathon 14-minute ninth game of the second set saw Federer finally break through to serve out the match after numerous break point chances.
“I got a bit lucky there at the end,”said Federer after the match.
The 39-year-old Federer will be facing 19-year-old Shapovalov for the first time.
“Any teenager you play, once I think you’re 23, feels different to playing anybody else, because you know they come out there and they might not know all the plays down to the T yet, but, you know, they don’t have to, because they just free-swing sometimes, and that makes it particularly dangerous,” Federer said to media.
“Yeah, I have always enjoyed playing against teenagers. I think it’s very exciting, you know, because of that, and, yeah, I don’t know. It’s an exciting draw, I think, for John and for myself here, playing these young guys. They are not just young, but they are very good, as well. They are nice guys. It should be hopefully a good semifinals.”
“And all I have is half an hour of practice tomorrow to get ready for that lefty. So the change is a big one, you know. I have done it many times before. So no problem there.
“You know, when you’re younger and you’re facing a lefty, it’s always super annoying, because maybe you’re still, you know, lacking strength, you know, with the one-handed backhand. Especially when you’re 12, 14, 16, it’s just a challenge. And then later on you start figuring it out, and things become more simple and you have different weapons to make it also complicated for them. It goes like that.
“Yeah, I mean, look, I practiced with Denis way back when when he was — I remember Edberg was with me on the court and I was warming up. Maybe — I think he warmed me up for a match in Toronto, I believe, and he came out. He might have been 16, 17, and, you know, similar to today, he was just hitting big. I was, like, Wow, it’s unbelievable. How old is he? How good is he gonna get? I don’t know. But he was very impressive. Same with the serve. He has that beautiful swinger going. You know, it just felt like he belonged there.
“Then I watched him play Tsitsipas in the Junior Wimbledon, semis or finals, I don’t remember what it was. But it was during my Wimbledon run too. I don’t remember. It was one of those matches where Tsitsipas should have won it, but both great one-handed backhand already, and, you know, I remember Denis was just going for broke, basically. The more important it became, the bigger he went.
“It’s nice to see that with Stefanos and Denis and that one-handed backhands will be around, because these guys will be very good many, many years from now. And I’m very excited playing against Denis, because I think he’s a great guy, and he’s one of the great shot makers. I still remember watching his game in Montreal, I believe it was, against Rafa when he crushed forehand down-the-line winner after forehand down-the-line winner. It was unbelievable. Yeah, big fan of his game, so it’s going to be tough tomorrow.”
Rain played havoc with the schedule, especially for the women.
Ashleigh Barty reached the biggest final of here career after almost six hours of rain delays, beating Anett Kontaveit 6-3, 6-3. The Aussie rallied from 1-3 down in the second set to close out the win.
“Yeah, very long day,” said Barty. “Obviously the weather is something that we can’t control, and a little bit frustrating that a couple of times we got on, it was a pretty quick shower straightaway. But, yeah, something you can’t control. You just have to try and sit back and kind of make the most of the time you have off the court and know that once you do get back on you have to switch on straightaway.”
“I think now we have another opportunity in a couple days’ time to go out there and try and play a really good match. Obviously it’s another chance at a title. Really excited to be in this position.”
Barty will be taking on No. 5 seed Karolina Pliskova, also in her first Miami Open final. Pliskova, down 4-5, won 10 of the next 11 game to beat Simona Halep 7-5, 6-1 after one in the morning, due to more rain delays. With the loss, Halep fails to get back to No. 1, Noami Osaka will remain in the top spot next week.
“Karolina, we have had a few really good matches in the past,” noted Barty, who is 2-2 versus the Czech. “I think it’s split pretty evenly, actually. Played her most recently in the US Open in another big match. There wasn’t much in that either. I think either way I get to go out there and try and play my brand of tennis, which is probably the most important thing for either matchup.”