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Teen sensation Shapovalov is set to eclipse Raonic as top Canadian

 

By Steve Simpson

Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov pulled off another big win, overcoming a slow start to beat 15th seed Tomas Berdych 1-6 6-3 7-6 (5) in the first round of the Italian Open.

The 19-year-old Shapovalov is coming off a semi-final appearance in last week's Madrid Open, where he beat fellow Canadian Milos Raonic in the Round of 16.

Already up to a career-high ranking of 29th this week, the victory over Berdych will move Shapovalov ahead of No.22 Raonic when next week's rankings come out - making him the top Canadian.

Shapovalov is already the youngest player in the top 30 since Richard Gasquet reached No.17 in 2005 at the age of 19.

Showing off his crafty game, Shapovalov made an audacious foray to the net to conclude one point with an overhead smash as he ran out to a 4-0 lead in the decisive tiebreaker.

Berdych made it 5-5 but Shapovalov then drew his opponent into the net and unleashed a wicked one-handed backhand passing shot down the line.

On his first match point, Shapovalov wrong-footed Berdych with another shot down the line.

On a day in which the start of play was delayed and then interrupted by rain, 14th seed Diego Schwartzman eliminated Chilean qualifier Nicolas Jarry 6-4 6-1, and 16th seed Lucas Pouille held off Italian wildcard Andreas Seppi 6-2 3-6 7-6 (3)

In the women's tournament, 11th seed Angelique Kerber defeated Kazakh qualifier Zarina Diyas 6-2 7-6 (6), and 14th seed Daria Kasatkina beat Australian qualifier Ajla Tomljanovic 6-0 6-4.

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