Well, I didn’t see it coming but I’m pleased it happened. Denis Shapovalov dropped just six games in his demolition you could call it of his friend and fellow countryman Felix Auger-Aliassime.
The season felt like it was plodding along. I remember watching Denis against Pierre-Hugues Herbet the other week and he won in straight sets but it was messy. I saw him in the next round and it was a big messy and lost.
I’ve always liked Denis’ game. He has all the tricks and skills but pulling it together on a regular and consistent basis has been a problem.
Do I think one result changes that? No I don’t but it is a good start. Denis has had some good wins but that consistency isn’t there and if a part of his game falls down it does feel like his confidence drops.
Denis does at the moment have a new coach with some ideas in his corner and that is former player Mikhail Youzhny.
So, the performance…
One of my issues with Denis’ game has been how passive and tentative he has been with his shots. It was coming down the court quite central, lack of pace and just safe but against Felix who let go and angled his shots perfectly.
You can see the way Denis’ body moves with the forehand he struck. He hit the angle pulling it away from the middle of court. He almost painted the lines and this shot above was a straight winner. Confidence.
Another example below which was match point and that intensity and intent was still there from Denis.
A great shot isn’t always determined by it being a winner. It is a shame that the main focus isn’t on the clean and flat backhand Denis played cross-court but what the shot made Felix do.
Look at the body position of Felix. Normal rally and then Denis switches it up and forces Felix into this off-forehand position to try and keep the rally going but nets it and Denis wins.
The way he sprayed the forehand and backhand and took control of the rallies was exceptional throughout the whole match and impressive that event in a closer third set that intensity was still there.
It was a complete performance and one last look at the serve…
123mph serve down the middle. Moves off to the left and then constructs the point well going forward. He opens up the court forcing Felix to run and eventually pulls off the winner.
If I had to play devils advocate (I’m sorry) just that down the line option could be of some danger on the return but it was a perfect performance I have been waiting for!
Image Credits – US Open