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Canadian teen Denis Shapovalov ousted at US Open after impressive run

Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Tennis

NEW YORK -- Teen sensation Denis Shapovalov had hoped to crack the top 150 in the rankings by this stage of the season, and he will beat that by about 100 spots thanks to his impressive run through qualifying and into the fourth round of the U.S. Open.

His surge ended Sunday with a 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3) loss to Pablo Carreno Busta at Arthur Ashe Stadium, but the Israel-born, Canada-raised prodigy with the backward-facing ballcap and striking one-handed backhand expanded his horizons and his legions of fans.

"It's another life-changing event for me," he said.

The 18-year-old also dreams of changing the sports culture in Canada, where his family settled when he was an infant.

"My goal is to raise the level of Canadian tennis and have more kids picking up a racket instead of a hockey stick," said Shapovalov, who is coached by his mother, Tessa.

"I think I have definitely helped to do that, and hopefully I can keep doing it."

He created considerable buzz by becoming the youngest man in the fourth round of the U.S. Open since 17-year-old Michael Chang in 1989. But his lack of experience hurt him Sunday, when he couldn't hold a 5-2 lead in the first set and squandered three set points against No. 12 seed Carreno Busta in the 12th game. Shapovalov saved three break points in the ninth game of the third set and held for a 5-4 lead but again couldn't close the deal. He made 55 unforced errors and converted only three of 13 break points.

"I think I had a lot of chances," he said. "I don't think I played as well today as I have these past two weeks, but that's tennis. It's going to happen."

Carreno Busta said he had never heard of Shapovalov until recently. He's got a good read on the slender blond kid now.

"He maybe is on fire, no?" the 26-year-old Spaniard said. "He's playing with a lot of confidence and he's very young, so in the future, he will be one of the best."

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