Denis Shapovalov announces himself on the big stage

Canadian Shapovalov’s round two showing, where he defeated Jo-Wilfred Tsonga 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (3) in two hours and 11 minutes, is enough indication that a quarterfinal appearance looks well within reach.

Denis Shapovalov acknowledges the fans after upsetting the No. 8 seed, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (3) at the US Open on Wednesday.   -  AP

Home favourite Venus Williams was down a set against Viktoria Kuzmova and local boy Tennys Sandgreen had just upped Marin Cilic for a set at Arthur Ashe, but a sell-out crowd on Court 7 had eyes only for Canada’s golden boy Denis Shapovalov who had his first-ever win at a Grand Slam tournament on Monday.

And on Wednesday, a packed Arthur Ashe stadium gave him a rousing reception akin to what Roger Federer received a mere 24 hours earlier. He played to a capacity crowd, with dozens more waiting in line outside the court and hoping for a seat. Shapovalov, still dealing with the adulation coming off his miracle run at Montreal where he registered back-to-back wins against Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal, said he didn't expect to have so many supporters coming out. “The crowd really helps me play my best tennis,” he said after his win.

And he gave the crowd much to admire: an 18-year-old breakout star hitting flamboyant shots like a 180-degree flip backhand, with an oozing self-confidence. He seemed to remind tennis purists of classic traits shown by veteran champions. He was light on his feet and lethal with his backhand, like Federer. Deployed a booming left-handed serve, much like John McEnroe. His effective dipping forehand took after Nadal.

Shapovalov made a very good first impression, disposing of fellow Next Gen ATP player and World No. 54 Daniil Medvedev of Russia, 7-5, 6-1, 6-2. But his round two match, where he defeated Jo-Wilfred Tsonga 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (3) in two hours and 11 minutes, was enough indication that a quarterfinal appearance looks well within reach.

The Canadian is currently ranked 69 in the world, thanks to his exploits at the Montreal Masters, but he not broken into the Top 100 when the entry list was closed last month and was forced to play his way into the US Open, winning three qualifying matches last week.

Milos Raonic pulled out with an injury; World No. 74 Genie Bouchard, who showed much promise and was ranked World No. 5 so long ago, crashed out and Vasek Pospisil, ranked No. 78, retired — both in the first round.

Shapovalov is the highest ranked as well as the only Canadian left at Flushing Meadows. He now awaits an intriguing third-round clash with Great Britain’s last remaining hope Kyle Edmund.