TOKYO — For Canada’s Denis Shapovalov, a win over Stan Wawrinka on Wednesday held special significance.
The 19-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., acknowledged the former world No. 3 was one of his favourite players growing up in the aftermath of a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over the Swiss star in the second round of the Japan Open.
"It didn’t even hit me until I walked on the court with him and he was on the other side and I couldn’t help but almost smile in a way," Shapovalov said. "It kind of got to me, I got a little bit tight but I refocused and I thought to myself, ‘OK, it’s not Stan."’
"It was great to be on the court with him. It’s a dream come true. But it’s one of those memories I’m never going to forget. It’s one of those ‘what you live for’ moments. It’s a great day today."
Shapovalov finally put Wawrinka away on his fifth match point, after missing three opportunities on the three-time Grand Slam champion’s serve.
"I went for it a little bit too much, but that’s something I’ve been working on especially the past couple of weeks, just regrouping, refocusing myself and not letting it bother me," Shapovalov said. "I had my service game and he played a really good first point. But again I didn’t let that affect me. I refocused and managed to serve some big serves, so I’m really proud with that aspect today."
Meanwhile, Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., topped Japan’s Yosuke Watanuki 6-3, 7-6 (2) on Wednesday.
Raonic will next face Daniil Medvedev, a 6-4, 6-3 winner over Martin Klizan, in the quarterfinals. Shapovalov will take on either Jeremy Chardy or Jan-Lennard Struff.
If Shapovalov and Raonic both win, they’ll square off in the semifinals. The Davis Cup teammates are 1-1 lifetime in the head-to-head battle, with Shapovalov winning on clay in Madrid this past spring and Raonic winning on a hard court in Cincinnati in the summer.
Also Wednesday, third-seeded Kei Nishikori advanced with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Benoit Paire. Nishikori will face either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Alex de Minaur in the quarterfinals.
Nick Kyrgios saved two set points in the second set before beating Yoshihito Nishioka 7-5, 7-6 (3) to reach the second round. Kyrgios will next face Richard Gasquet, who has defeated Kyrgios in five of their seven previous matches.
Second-seeded Kevin Anderson also advanced to the second round by beating Matthew Ebden 4-6, 7-6 (1), 6-2. Anderson, who hit 22 aces and saved five of six break points, will next face Frances Tiafoe.