Mats Wilander: ‘Unbelievable Denis Shapovalov a combination of Nadal and Federer’
Eurosport expert Mats Wilander has told the world’s top tennis players they need to “watch out” for Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who he has hailed as a combination of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Denis Shapovalov of Canada celebrates defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France during their second round Men's Second match on Day Three of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 30, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood
Published 31/08/2017 at 21:08 GMT | Updated 31/08/2017 at 21:20 GMT
The precocious 18-year-old, who destroyed eighth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets in the second round of the US Open on Wednesday, cannot be compared to any other young player, according to the Swede – such is the talent he possesses.
Highlights: Shapovalov ousts eighth seed Tsonga
Flushing Meadows could be the venue for a new breakout star in men’s tennis after years of domination from Federer and Nadal.
“He is a serious talent,” Wilander told Eurosport. “To be 100 per cent honest, you cannot compare Shapovalov to any other youngster. He is a completely different level.
“It’s like watching a combination of Nadal and Federer at 18-years-old. He has the fire of Nadal and the speed around the court of Nadal and he has the grace of Federer - it’s unbelievable.
“He really captivates the crowd. Last night it was like ‘Oh my god, where does this kid come from?’ He flies.
“I’m really, really impressed. The best players in the world better watch out for him now.”
Shapovalov, who claimed the juniors' title at Wimbledon in 2016, next faces Britain’s Kyle Edmund, who is in for a very stern test, according to Wilander, who believes Tsonga was either hopelessly off colour or a victim of the Canadian’s extraordinary ability.
“He [Tsonga] didn’t bring it,” Wilander said. “He didn’t bring the intensity level or use the advantages that he has in experience, physicality and strength.
“He just didn’t bring it. He wasn’t ready to go the full distance.
“Either Tsonga was a bit limited in his game or we are watching the next superstar in the sport.”
Denis Shapovalov of Canada returns a shot against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France during their second round Men's Second match on Day Three of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 30, 2017 in the Flushing neighborho
Image credit: Getty Images
As for a prediction of the US Open champion this year, Wilander still believes Nadal is the man to beat, despite all the hype surrounding Federer and his aim to win a 20th Grand Slam title.
“Rafa is still my favourite and will be the one who impresses the most in the opening rounds because he’s coming in to the tournament healthy,” he said.
“He’s won here twice and he’s in to the tournament, has good practice behind him, is serving harder than last year, he’s adjusted his backhand and looked really good in the first match.
“Federer will improve all the way through but the chances are Rafa will stay at a high level all the way through the tournament.”