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Surging Shapovalov Earns Shot At Federer

Denis Shapovalov kicked in the door to the ATP Rankings Top 20 club Thursday night after outgunning fellow #NextGenATP star Frances Tiafoe at the Miami Open presented by Itau. The Canadian guaranteed that he would move to a career-high mark inside the Top 20 on Monday after reaching his third ATP Masters 1000 semi-final with a free-swinging 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2 win over the American.
For a place in the final, the left-hander faces three-time champion Roger Federer for the first time after the Swiss outclassed sixth seed Kevin Anderson in straight sets. This was Shapovalov’s third Masters 1000 quarter-final, and the teenager has now been victorious on all three occasions (also 2017 Canada and 2018 Madrid).
But it did not come easy against 2018 Delray Beach champion Tiafoe, who scratched and clawed. The clash was entertaining throughout, with both players hitting the fuzz off the ball from the baseline and showing their willingness to swoop into net. But Shapovalov’s forehand was the biggest difference-maker on the Grandstand, and the 19-year-old advanced after two hours and 15 minutes.

The key to the match was the end of the second set and the beginning of the decider. Shapovalov led 5-1 in the second set, but Tiafoe appeared to have wrangled back the momentum when he brought it back to 5-4. While he did not earn the set, he found a high level of tennis and almost rode the momentum to a break in the Canadian’s first service game of the third set, forcing the lefty to deuce.
But Shapovalov was able to control rallies with his forehand under pressure, escaping that game. And while Tiafoe came up with unbelievable tennis to save the first three break points he faced in the next game, the 21-year-old hit a backhand into the net to give Shapovalov the advantage.
Shapovalov raised his level even higher the rest of the way. And this time, he did not let slip a double-break lead, saving break point as he served for the match before his big lefty serve overwhelmed Tiafoe on match point.

Shapovalov and countryman Felix Auger-Aliassime, who advanced on Wednesday, are the first teenagers to reach the Miami semi-finals in the same year since Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray accomplished the feat in 2017, both at 19.
Tiafoe arrived in Miami having lost five of his previous six matches. But the American found the tennis that helped him to the Australian Open quarter-final two months ago, advancing to his first Masters 1000 quarter-final.
Did You Know?
Shapovalov has beaten three straight opponents who have competed in the Next Gen ATP Finals: Andrey Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Tiafoe.

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Source: ATP World Tour

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