Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Teenager Denis Shapovalov Quickly Becoming Face of Rogers Cup

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Teenager Denis Shapovalov Quickly Becoming Face of Rogers Cup

Article excerpt

Shapovalov becoming face of Rogers Cup


TORONTO - In the days leading up to the Rogers Cup, tournament organizers were forced to announce one major withdrawal after another.

By the start of the men's tennis showcase, top draws Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal were among the no-shows.

But the emergence of a homegrown teen star has helped ease the sting for tournament director Karl Hale.

Denis Shapovalov, 17, upset Australia's Nick Kyrgios in three sets on Monday night in his main draw debut. The Richmond Hill, Ont., player requested to play on centre court despite being the youngest player in the tournament.

"It was the best atmosphere that I've ever seen on a Monday night," Hale said. "Playing a 19th ranked player and beating him in three sets was the most amazing thing I've seen. The most electric atmosphere on a Monday night we've ever had."

Shapovalov has quickly become the story and star of the tournament.

The lefty has been given a prime spot on Wednesday's schedule, following another homegrown star, Milos Raonic, on centre court in the evening draw. Raonic will play his tournament opener against Yen-Hsun Lu.

Shapovalov's image -- alongside Raonic and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic -- has also been added to the main page on the tournament website.

"We want to promote Canadians which we never have been able to do in the past because they haven't gone as deep as we wanted," Hale said. "But now we have the Wimbledon junior champion, we have a Wimbledon finalist in Milos, both playing Wednesday night against some great, great opponents so it's going to be an electric night."

Shapovalov was staying humble when asked about now being a face of the tournament.

"It's exciting," he said. "I'm trying to not look at it too much in that way. Just trying to focus on myself, focus on playing the match, I'm not trying to look around too much. …

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