The late Montreal evening, and thousands of spectators witnessed a special moment on Thursday: Denis Shapovalov, 18, came back from a set down to stun Rafael Nadal 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(4).

As he has been doing since the beginning of the Coupe Rogers, the highly talented Canadian played like the player who has nothing to lose that he is.

Shapovalov defeats his idol in Montreal

“It was a tough match”, said a tired but elated Shapovalov. “A tough match the whole way. I just tried to stay calm, tried to play every point, go for my shots. At the end of the day I really tried to keep playing my game and stick to my tactics. Yeah, I think I did that really well.”

Shapovalov makes history

Shapovalov did so well that he is now into the very first ATP quarter-finals of his career, and became the youngest player in history to be in the last eight of a Masters 1000. Furthermore, at 18 and three months, he is the youngest to do so at the Canadian tournament since Björn Borg (18 years and two months) in 1974.

On top of it, his win over the Spaniard is one of the best in Canadian tennis history. When he was told that it was compared to that of Daniel Nestor over Stefan Edberg, the Ontarian said: “It’s incredible. I’m actually very honoured to be compared to Nestor, that match against Edberg. It’s what I dreamed of all my life growing up, playing guys like Rafa, Roger, Andy. My dream came true today.”

On Friday evening, Denis Shapovalov, who is almost assured of breaking the top 100, will face Adrian Mannarino for a spot in the Montreal semifinals. But whatever happens, the young man showed that his future is bright.

Very bright indeed.

(Photo: Getty Images)