October 27, 2020

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Denis Shapovalov qualifies in New York (video)

NEW YORK – The qualifying at the US Open can be a mine field for the top seeds.

And for players like Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who would be straight into the main draw had this week’s rankings been the criteria, it’s even tougher.

No. 1 qualifying seed Leonardo Mayer of Argentina was in the same boat as Shapovalov. His current ranking was more than enough to get him into the main draw; but he got it there too late.

And Mayer lost on Friday to Germany’s Maximilian Marterer. (He did get in as the lucky loser, a spot made available when Shapovalov’s countryman Milos Raonic withdrew).

Shapovalov

No. 4 seed Sergiy Stakhovsky, who has some solid Grand Slam scalps, was beaten in the final round by a 23-year-old Czech named Vaclav Safranek.

In the end, only three of the top 10 seeds in the qualifying made it through, and only seven seeds overall out of 16 qualifiers.

Everything to lose

Your mind is half thinking you shouldn’t even have to play, even though you do your best to shut it out. Meanwhile, your opponents are all players in the range where making it to the main draw and guaranteeing at least $50,000 in prize money is a game changer.

The 18-year-old Canadian lost the first set against just such a player – 27-year-old Jan Satral of the Czech Republic.

Ranked No. 196, Satral had earned just over $62,000 this season coming into the US Open. And so he would nearly double that by making the main draw in New York.

That’s something he has done just once in his career. It happened here a year ago. And then he overcame a two-sets-to-none deficit in his first round to win that. Since then, he has lost a couple of heartbreakers in the final round of qualifying at both the Australian and French Opens.

To put that in perspective, Shapovalov made nearly as much in one week in Montreal than Satral has earned in nearly eight years as a pro.

But he got through it. And it was bedlam, by qualifying standards, after the win, which came before a packed house on Court 13.

It was just as bad after the second round, with less protection around him.

Step one done, Medvedev next

Now, in the first round, he’ll face another Next-Gen player in Daniil Medvedev of Russia.

Medvedev, just 21, is ranked near his career best of No. 48, at No. 53.

Here’s Shapovalov on various subjects: being determined to survive the qualifying, how his life has changed, and playing Laver Cup among the legends.