MELBOURNE, Australia -- Canada's Denis Shapovalov has a spot in the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time in his career.
In a battle of small margins, Denis takes out the big-serving Reilly Opelka to secure his place in the second week of the @AustralianOpen.
— Tennis Canada (@TennisCanada) January 21, 2022
He beat Reilly Opelka 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Friday to set up a showdown with third-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany.
The Canadian has been pushed hard at Melbourne Park, averaging three hours 37 minutes of court time per win so far.
``I've gotten very familiar with the ice baths the last week,'' Shapovalov said with a smile in an on-court interview. ``We've become very good friends.''
At six foot 11 and 225 pounds, Opelka is an imposing force on the court. He had a 17-10 edge in aces on the 14th-seeded Shapovalov but made 46 unforced errors.
``Early on I actually found a rhythm on his serve,'' Shapovalov said. ``I was able to chip quite a lot back, so I was happy with that. I think I did a really good of just taking the chances today.
``Obviously it's really tough to get the rhythm against a guy like that so I'm super happy.''
It was the first career meeting between Shapovalov and the 23rd-seeded American. Zverev, meanwhile, has a 4-2 edge in head-to-head matchups against the Canadian.
``Hopefully I can win,'' Zverev said. ``It's going to be a great match.''
Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ont., previously reached the third round at Melbourne Park in 2019 and 2021. The 22-year-old's best Grand Slam performance was a semifinal showing last year at Wimbledon.
Zverev defeated Maldova's Radu Albot 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in third-round play.
``Radu is in great form right now ... 1/8 I'm 3/8 happy to be through in three sets,'' Zverev said.
Ninth-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal was scheduled to play Britain's Daniel Evans in third-round play Saturday.
Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov teamed up to lead Canada to a win in the ATP Cup earlier this month in Australia.