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Canadian teen Denis Shapovalov ousted at U.S. Open after impressive run

“My goal is to raise the level of Canadian tennis and have more kids picking up a racket instead of a hockey stick,” says Denis Shapovalov, shown in action Sunday at the U.S. Open.
(Richard Heathcote / Getty Images)

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 on 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.”

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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 on 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.”

Busta, who hasn’t dropped a set here, is the highest remaining seed in the bottom half of the draw. His quarterfinal opponent will be No. 29 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, who upset No. 16 Lucas Pouille of France 7-6(3), 7-5, 2-6, 6-2. Another quarterfinal will match Kevin Anderson of South Africa, a four-set winner over Paolo Lorenzi, against No. 17 Sam Querrey of Santa Monica

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The only American man left in contention, Querrey needed only 76 minutes to dismiss No. 23 Mischa Zverev, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 and earn his first U.S. Open quarterfinal berth. “Its been a great year. To keep it going at my home Slam and play at night in front of you guys is something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said in an on-court interview. .

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Diego Schwartzman, a 5-foot-7 dynamo in a land of athletic giants, has won the hearts of fans here. His message that tennis isn’t just for tall people and his tenacity in reaching his first Grand Slam quarterfinal have struck a chord with crowds, and he’s loving it. “I am enjoying the people here. When I win the matches, they are really happy with me. Me, too, with them,” he said. “I think we are enjoying together to be here in the quarterfinals.”

In addition to friends in the stands, he will have a friend on the other side of the court when he facesCarreno Busta. Their styles are compatible, too. “I think we are similar,” Schwartzman said. “We try to be solid in the baseline, play every point, be focused on every point, try to run a lot on the court. I think it’s going to be a tough match for both. We need to be at our 100% to play our best tennis.”

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Madison Keys has become a night owl at the U.S. Open, earning the distinction of playing in the two latest-ending women’s matches in the tournament’s history. Her 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Russian Elena Vesnina ended at 1:45 a.m. Eastern time Sunday, three minutes short of the late-night mark she set in 2016 with a first-round victory that ended at 1:48 a.m. Eastern time. “Now I just want to go get in bed,” she said at her post-match news conference. Keys, the No. 15 seed, will face No. 4 Elina Svitolina in the final match Monday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“I get to be the underdog, which is fun,” Keys said after reaching the fourth round here for the third straight year.

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Venus Williams again declined comments on reports that her sister, Serena, had given birth to a daughter on Friday. A tournament official told reporters that if they need a comment, “The official statement is: No comment. At the end of the day, this is still a family matter and personal matter.”

helene.elliott@latimes.com

Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen

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