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For almost a year now, Denis Shapovalov has gone from a viral sensation for an upset win against Rafael Nadal to a rising tennis star, not just in Canada, but globally. And while his coming out party against Nadal came in Canada during the Rogers Cup, his status among his countryman still had room to grow.
While Shapovalov may not have officially taken the Canadian tennis torch, he took a big step toward doing so Thursday, defeating Milos Raonic in the Round of 16 at the Madrid Open (6-4, 6-4) in the first ever meeting between countrymen.
Del Potro looked in complete control as he converted two break-point opportunities to take the opening set but Lajovic, ranked 95 in the world, dug deep to stay in the contest.
A break midway through the second set was enough for Lajovic to force a decider before he wrapped up his first career victory over a top-10 opponent in the tiebreak.
In a tight match between players of two drastically different styles, Shapovalov managed to produce the only two breaks, both coming with the respective sets tied at 3-3.
With little margin for error, Shapovalov won the first break point after a miss-hit shot by Shapovalov caught Raonic wrong-footed, but leaving the 19-year-old Shapovalov with a 4-3 lead and apologizing to his opponent.