Denis Shapovalov knocked out World No 3 Alexander Zverev to set up a quarterfinal showdown against Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open.
The Canadian 14th seed, who had played three tough matches to get there, brushed past an inconsistent Zverev 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 in the fourth round.
“It’s probably the one I least expected to finish in three,” said Shapovalov in his on-court interview.
“I’m very happy with my performance, definitely happy with where my game is at.”
Having also come through the big-serving test of Reilly Opelka in the third round, World No. 14 Shapovalov’s return game looked finely tuned on Margaret Court Arena.
He broke Zverev early for 3-1, the German dropping just his third service game of the tournament on the way to also losing his first set in Melbourne this year.
Shapovalov looked sharp throughout, hitting 35 winners and winning 81 per cent (22/27) of points at the net.
Zverev battled but could find no answers as the 22-year-old Canadian sealed victory to complete just his second win against a Top 5 player and reach a third Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Earlier in the day, Nadal beat Adrian Mannarino 7-6(14), 6-2, 6-2.
The Nadal effect🔥 @RafaelNadal
— ATP Tour (@atptour) January 23, 2022
Nadal holds a 3-1 head-to-head lead over Shapovalov, and the Canadian knows what to expect from the 20-time Grand Slam champion.
‘One of my worst matches’
Zverev was disappointed his performance in Melbourne and believes he never got into the right rhythm.
“I was playing bad the whole week. To be honest, I didn’t think I was playing that great,” Zverev said.
“Except against John Millman maybe I had a good match, but the other two matches weren’t great either.”
“To be honest, there is not much I can say or take away that was positive from today,” he said about Sunday’s loss to Shapovalov.
“Maybe since Wimbledon, [it’s] one of the worst matches I have played. It’s just tough.”
The 24-year-old was bidding to win his first major title, and a chance of becoming the No 1 player in the world.
“At the end of the day, I’ve got to do better. I came here with a goal to win, and maybe to become No. 1 and all that,” the German said. “But if I play like that, I don’t deserve it. It’s as simple as that.
“I think after a match like this, it’s very silly to talk about [No. 1]. I think I need to figure myself out first.”