NEW YORK (Reuters) – Denis Shapovalov won the battle of North American young guns by grinding out a 3-6 6-3 4-6 7-6(5) 6-2 win over Taylor Fritz on Friday to move into the U.S. Open fourth round.
The match played out exactly as one would expect from two of tennis’s rising talents with the 12th-seeded Canadian Shapovalov and 19th seeded American Fritz engaged in a seesaw tussle.
The entertaining 3-1/2 hour match in an empty Arthur Ashe stadium ended with Shapovalov back in the 1ast 16 at Flushing Meadows for the first time since he made his U.S. Open debut in 2017.
From their nearly identical Nike kit to their resumes Fritz and Shapovalov bear are remarkable resemblance.
Shapovalov is 21-years-old and seeded 12th while Fritz is 22 and seeded 19th.
Fritz was named ATP Tour newcomer of the year in 2016 with Shapovalov claiming the honour in 2017. Both won their one and only ATP titles in 2019.
Their games, however, are different. Fritz the big server works from the baseline while Shapovalov can serve and volley unafraid to come to the net.
But in the decisive fifth set it was the Canadian’s serve that made an impact Shapovalov laying down seven aces to just one from Fritz.
“I was struggling serving because he was putting his racket on everything and he was playing so solid,” said Shapovalov, who has taken the long route to the last 16 with his opening two matches going four sets. “In the fourth set when I was down a break I was able to loosen up and got the rhythm back on my serve.
“I was really happy with the way I served especially that last set.”
Fritz had a chance to serve out the match at 5-3 in the fourth but Shapovalov grabbed the break he needed to drag the set to a tiebreak which he won.
Recharged by his rally, it was the Canadian who raced ahead 3-0 in the fifth before closing out the contest with another break when Fritz’s return sailed long.
Next up for Shapovalov is Belgium seventh seed David Goffin who was a 6-1 7-6(5) 6-4 winner over Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic.
(Reporting by Steve Keating; Editing by Ken Ferris and Grant McCool)