New York: Croatian fifth seed Marin Cilic crashed out and Canadian teen Denis Shapovalov became the youngest man since 1989 into the US Open last 16 yesterday.
Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion who had been sidelined since a Wimbledon runner-up showing by an adductor strain, was eliminated by Argentine 29th seed Diego Schwartzman 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-4.
“(The injury) played a quite significant part, and just being injured and not being able to keep that good form,” Cilic said. “I was struggling with my shots and my serve was off.”
His exit ensured a first-time Slam finalist will come from his draw half, which now lacks a top-10 player.
“Everyone is improving,” Cilic said. “And you have a lot of youngsters coming up that are playing better.”
No one proved that better than Shapovalov, the 18-year-old Israeli-born world number 69 who advanced when Britain’s Kyle Edmund retired with a neck injury with the Canadian leading 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 1-0.
Not since 17-year-old Michael Chang 28 years ago had a younger player cracked the fourth round in New York. And no qualifier had reached the last 16 since Gilles Muller in 2008.
“It’s never great to win this way. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious,” said Shapovalov.
Shapovalov will play for a quarter-final berth against Spanish 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta, who ousted French qualifier Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.
The Spaniard, who has not dropped a set, will become the first player to face four qualifiers at a Grand Slam in the Open Era (since 1967).
Schwartzman, who improved to 2-13 against top-10 foes, next meets French 16th seed Lucas Pouille, who defeated Kazakh qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
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