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Denis Shapovalov: From 'how do you pronounce that?' to household name

Denis Shapovalov: From 'how do you pronounce that?' to household name
From CBC - August 13, 2017

There is a new star in Canadian tennis and his name is Denis Shapovalov.

Now if we could only pronounce it properly.

Between the different broadcasters in a multitude of languages, to the fans, to the chair umpires, over the past week we have heard of the 18-year-old's last name said so many different ways it's been almost as head-spinning as his improbable performances on the court.

And his first name, is it Denis the French way? Or the English way?

Be it pronunciation or performance, from broadcasters, to fans, to Tennis Canada and even Denis Shapovalov himself, everyone seemed to be learning on the fly.

After all, nobody saw a run like this coming.

Shapovalov fended off four match points in a win over world number 64 Rogerio Dutra da Silva, he knocked off 2009 U.S. Open champions Juan Martin del Potro, stunned 10-time French Open champ Rafael Nadal, rallied to comeback and beat world No. 42 Adrian Mannarino and pushed one of the game's rising stars Alexander Zverev before bowing out in the semifinal.

Unreal for a kid ranked 143rd at the start of the week. But it happened and it was spectacular.

Rewriting the history books

What Shapovalov accomplished this week in Montreal cannot be overstated.

As an 18-year-old on wild-card entry to the tournament, this event was supposed to be an opportunity for him to earn experience, maybe win a match or two and perhaps get a few balls signed by one of his idols after losing to them.

Shapovalov not only beat a pair of his idols in Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal, he did it in style.

He never gave up on a point, a game or a set. He fearlessly went for and executed stunning shots at every opportunity.

He pumped his fist after big points and bathed in the roar from the crowd.

When the dust settled, he was the youngest player everto make an ATP 1000 Masters semifinal and somehow, for a moment, turned hockey-crazed Montreal into a city talking tennis like it was the number one sport.

A victory for the ages

While all his wins were special in one way or another, his victory over Rafael Nadal was off the charts. It was a national sports moment for the ages and only becomes richer thanks to the story behind it.

Shapovalov is staying in the basement of his friend and fellow tennis prodigy Felix Auger-Aliassime's house during the tournament.

In the basement hung a poster of Rafael Nadal and that poster was one of the first things Shapovalov saw when he woke up the morning of his match against the legend.

Knowing he was about to battle him on the court, he told his friend to take the Nadal poster down.

A bright future ahead

'A Dream Week'

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