The Full Shapo
Shapovalov handily beats a crumbling Zverev: serve, return and rally analysis
Shapovalov d Zverev: 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3
A huge win for Shapovalov. His first Top 5 win since his breakout win over Nadal in Montreal back in 2017. Shapovalov will play Nadal next round.
A week or so ago, when writing analysis for Canada’s ATP Cup win, I wrote this:
Shapovalov’s forehand is always going to do most of the damage, but his backhand also needs to not let him down in order to set up enough opportunities to hit those forehands. Either:
making backhand returns and playing the right, quite high margin backhands in rallies, in order to get the opportunity to hit the big aggressive forehand strike that would likely end the point.
hitting big but aggressive spots on 2nd serve returns to take control of the point immediately.
The more returns Shapovalov makes, and the fewer cheap backhand rally errors he makes, the more opportunities he has to strike aggressive forehands, which no one on tour has an answer for when he’s playing well. The key for Shapovalov isn’t hitting bigger, it’s for his game to evolve to the point where he calmly enables his strengths as much as possible. This sounds obvious but it’s much harder to execute on in the moment as a player.
This win over Zverev was a masterclass from Shapovalov in how to enable his own strengths as often as possible. To be quite clear here, Zverev did not play well. The German’s 2nd serve and forehand were poor for large portions of this match. But as with any match, it’s rare that all the fault for playing badly lies on one player, and Shapo did plenty to exacerbate Zverev’s issues.
Today was Zverev’s lowest ace rate in a hard court Slam match (3.4%) since his Slam debut vs Kohlschreiber in 2015 as an 18 year old (1.4%).
Shapovalov also put:
44/66 (66%) 1st serve returns back in play.
21/21 (100%) 2nd serve returns back in play
These are great numbers. Not so much on the 2nd serve because Zverev has really struggled with that shot all week, but the 1st serve return performance was brilliant.
Shapovalov hit more blocked 1st serve returns than driven 1st serve returns in the first two sets. And it paid off.
— ↑ Great deep blocked 1st serve return from Shapovalov (far end). Forces Zverev to play a forehand (his much weaker shot today) off the back foot and erases all serving advantage. That’s not all though, Shapovalov faced with a backhand goes big, but safe, into the Zverev forehand on the next shot. I like everything about how he played this point.