Canada’s Denis Shapovalov struggled with mental errors but pushed 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain to three tiebreaks in a 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 loss on Sunday in the fourth round of the U.S. Open.
Shapovalov’s inability to find his forehand and reliance on second serves were his undoing in the two hour 54 minute match at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The 18-year old from Richmond Hill, Ont., was hoping to become the youngest U.S. Open quarterfinalist since Andre Agassi in 1988, when he was also 18.
After building a 5-2 lead in the first set, unforced errors and a struggling forehand started to slow down Shapovalov with Carreno Busta tying the set 5-5.
Carreno Busta put his return into the net to give Shapovalov a 6-5 lead, but the Canadian wasn’t able to close out the set, with the veteran Spaniard forcing a tiebreak.
Again, Shapovalov’s forehand let him down, sending a shot long to hand Carreno Busta the set point. The hour-long set was marked by Shapovalov’s 19 unforced errors compared to Carreno Busta’s 10.
Mistakes kept piling up for Shapovalov in the second set, with Carreno Busta pulling out to a 3-1 lead.
Still struggling to find his stroke, Shapovalov turned to the crowd and shouted with joy after an overhand smash cut Carreno Busta’s lead to 5-4 and give the young Canadian serve.
Tied up at 5-5, Shapovalov put the ball into the net to give Carreno Busta the 6-5 lead. But a well-placed backhand by Shapovalov tied it 6-6 and forced a second tiebreak.
Again, unforced errors cost Shapovalov as he lost that tiebreak on a forehand that went long.
Seemingly refocused after the changeover, Shapovalov raced out to a 3-0 lead in the third set. However, Carreno Busta broke back to win three straight games and tie it 3-3.
Two more unforced errors by Shapovalov made it 5-5, with Carreno Busta’s consistency wearing down the emotional teenager.
Shapovalov took a one-game lead but Carreno Busta took it right back to force the third tiebreak and push the match past the 2:45-mark — the longest ATP match Shapovalov has competed in in his young career.
The Canadian couldn’t handle Carreno Busta’s serve on match point, ending the marathon match on its third tiebreak.
Shapovalov dropped his bags on the court to stop and thank the crowd, patting his heart and blowing kisses to the vocal audience before continuing his walk to the locker room.