Emulating very much previous day’s results, Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion and this year’s Wimbledon finalist, crashed out of Flushing Meadows leaving the door wide open for a new name to make a grand slam final and that could well be Denis Shapovalov who brought Kyle Edmund’s run to an end.
The 18-year-old Canadian continues to spring surprises and once he had the measure of Edmund, the last Briton in either singles draw, he was able to use his speed and power to take control of the match after dropping the first set.
It's never great to win this way Hopefully, it's nothing too serious Denis Shapovalov
Unfortunately it wasn’t all down to Shapovalov’s brilliance for Edmund ‘s own powerful strokes lost their bite as an injury to his neck started to impede his game resulting in the British No.2 retiring with the score standing at 3-6 6-3 6-3 1-0.
Earlier the 5th seeded Cilic bowed out to the 29th seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman 4-6 7-5 7-5 6-4 having made 80 unforced errors in the process.
Both Schwartzman and Shapovalov have now reached the round of 16 at a major for the first time, the Canadian becoming the youngest player to achieve that stage since the 17-year-old Michael Chang did so in 1989. The two were joined by the 35-year-old Italian Paolo Lorenzi who is also making his debut in round four thanks to his 6-2 6-4 6-4 win over compatriot Thomas Fabbiono.
“It’s never great to win this way,” Shapovalov said following Edmund’s retirement, adding: “Hopefully, it’s nothing too serious.”
Schwartzman, though, noted: “A few surprises and lots of withdrawal. This is the moment to take advantage.”
With Cilic the only player to have held a major title in the bottom half of the draw, the prospects for those still left in the field is becoming more and more enticing as the disappointed Romanian was well aware.
His chance of becoming the first player to win the US Open without having played a tournament since Wimbledon – as he was nursing injuries – have obviously been foiled.
“Without playing [during] that time, I lost maybe a little bit [of] rhythm,” Cilic, who was broken nine times, explained. “Today, when I was in some trouble, I was not coming up with the great shots, not coming up with some good serves, so I had to rely a lot on playing from the back, where Diego is very solid, moves really great and doesn’t give much.”
But the new crowd favourite is definitely the youngster Shapovalov with his fluid, aggressive game, his flowing golden locks and exuberant playing style. He has established himself as the fastest rising star since Montreal where he became the youngest player to make the semis of a Masters event. He also won Junior Wimbledon last year.
His run at Flushing Meadows includes coming through qualifying where he played three matches to make the main draw and he has followed that up by winning another three to date which includes the scalp of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the previous round.
His next opponent is No. 12 Pablo Carreno Busta, a Spaniard who earned his spot in the fourth round for the first time by eliminating Nicolas Mahut 6-3 6-4 6-3.
Another Frenchman Lucas Pouille, the men’s 16th seed, beat Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 2-6 6-3 6-4 6-4 to set up a fourth-round clash with Argentine Diego Schwartzman.