Denis Shapovalov became the first Canadian to qualify for the quarter-finals of the US Open by beating David Goffin in four sets, and he achieved that feat with a little help from his better half.
The 21-year-old young gun is flying in New York and remains a genuine chance to claim his first grand slam title if he maintains his current form.
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Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were already absent from Flushing Meadows and Novak Djokovic was sensationally disqualified yesterday for hitting a lineswoman in the throat with a ball.
It means we’ll see a debut major winner for the first time since Marin Cilic in 2014 as the draw opens up for a host of budding stars including Shapovalov, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Aussie Alex De Minaur.
Following his four-set, fourth round win over Goffin, Shapovalov paid tribute to his girlfriend Mirjam Bjorklund for helping him hit new heights in his career.
Bjorklund is a tennis player herself. The 22-year-old Swede broke into the top 300 last month and she is having a positive impact on her beau’s game.
“I just think as soon as we started dating, it’s kind of a reason for someone to want to man up,” said Shapovalov, who added he’d started “behaving” differently since his relationship blossomed.
“I felt like she’s definitely inspired me to become a better person, a better tennis player.
“I don’t mean to take anything away from my parents or my team, as well. I feel like everybody’s inspiring me. They’re staying up at night watching my matches. Everybody is supporting me.
“Throughout the start of my life my parents have just been there always for me. I think it’s everybody.
“But, of course, she (Bjorklund) inspires me as well.”
Before the US Open kicked off, Bjorklund posted a photo of her and Shapovalov on Instagram. “Good luck tomorrow at the US open my superstar,” she captioned the happy snap with several love heart emojis.
The pair have reportedly been dating for less than a year but are clearly smitten with each other. Bjorklund followed Shapovalov to Brisbane and Auckland last summer to watch him in action before cheering him on at the Australian Open in Melbourne.
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Shapovalov has ground his way through the first four rounds at Flushing Meadows to reach the final eight of a grand slam for the first time.
He started his campaign overcoming Sebastian Korda in four sets, then beat Kwon Soon-woo in four in the second round.
The world No. 17 needed five sets to get the better of 19th seed Taylor Fritz in round three before he recovered from losing the opening set against Goffin to beat the German seventh seed in four.
Shapovalov was likely expecting to face Djokovic, the red-hot favourite to win the trophy and claim his 18th career major title, in the quarters but instead the Canadian will face Pablo Carreno Busta after the world No. 1’s spectacular disqualification.
Carreno Busta was up 6-5 in the opening set of his fourth-round clash against Djokovic when the Serbian accidentally hit a line judge in the throat after swatting a ball behind him in frustration.
Shapovalov’s 20-year-old countryman Felix Auger Aliassime would have been hoping to go deep but he was outclassed in straight sets this morning by second seed Thiem, who will be hoping to secure a maiden grand slam title after losing finals at the French Open (2018, 2019) and Australian Open (2020).