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Have they solved the Shapovalov puzzle?

Denis Shapovalov

By Scoop Malinowski

Denis Shapovalov took the ATP by storm last year, by posting shocking wins against Nadal and Del Potro in Montreal and his surreal US Open run all the way to the round of 16 as a qualifer.

But since entering the top 50 last September, the eighteen year old has struggled.

After the US Open, Shapovalov posted two Davis Cup wins vs India (beating Bhambri in five sets and Ramanathan in three).

Then at Shanghai he lost his first match to Triocki 76 36 06.

In Antwerp he lost his first match to Escobedo 67 46.

In Basel, the Canadian lefty managed to beat Sugita 76 in the third but then he lost next round to Mannarino 64 16 26.

At Paris Indoors he lost his first match to Benneteau 46 46.

In the final event of 2017 in Milan at the NEXT GEN Finals, he lost to Rublev and Chung and beat Quinzi in the round robin.

This year, Shapovalov has lost first round at both of his events to Del Potro yesterday in Sydney and 76 67 46 to Edmund in Brisbane.

So since the US Open and the Davis Cup tie vs India, Shapovalov has a 2-8 record.

Yes, there were a lot of narrow, tight losses in those eight defeats but the pattern is becoming evident. Shapovalov, the boy wonder last September, is now mired in a deep slump and has lost his winning touch.

Winning two out of ten matches is cause for concern. And you have to wonder if the other ATP players have conspired to figure out how to offset the explosive six-foot southpaw? Or has the pressure, media attention and great expectations – by himself and the public – jangled his nerves and ability to hit and play freely without fear or worry?

As the losses continue to mount, the questions and concerns will snowball.

Shapovalov’s coach Martin Laurendeau currently doesn’t seem to have the answers. And if Laurendeau wants to stay for the ride much longer, he better come up with some solutions. Sooner than later.

Wondering if Marat Safin, Boris Becker or Thomas Muster would be interested by an offer to coach young Shapovalov?

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  • Andrew Miller · January 12, 2018 at 9:25 am

    On Australians, to me the women’s tour Aussies have a better chance than the men.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 12, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Winning a major is like winning the lottery. Look at how many obstacles have to be overcome. Even for Fed and Rafa there are still so many obstacles – tough matches, avoiding injury, avoiding on off day, avoiding bad luck, avoiding a regular player suddenly playing like superman.

  • catherine · January 12, 2018 at 10:03 am

    Here’s a wierd question – what’s the draw at AO ? Is it 128 ?

  • Hartt · January 12, 2018 at 10:10 am

    As much as I would love to see Fed get Slam No. 20, I find tourneys more fun when there is some unpredictability involved. It is time for some of the younger players to go deep – Sascha, Grigor, Goffin, even Kyrgios (who has to be the most unpredictable of the lot).

  • Andrew Miller · January 12, 2018 at 10:13 am

    Federer could win…or lose first round. Shapovalov could win…or withdraw before the start. Almost believe it’s easier for a player who doesn’t know they are scared like Shapovalov to win a slam than Thiem or Raonic, who fear what may happen if they are in a slam final.

    Not knowing sometimes is better. Ostapenko kept it simple out there for her first slam, she didn’t know she was supposed to lose, so she won instead.

  • Hartt · January 12, 2018 at 10:15 am

    Catherine, the AO draw is 128 for singles and 64 for doubles.

  • catherine · January 12, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Hartt – thanks, yes I thought so. Can’t think I was wrong all those years. I’ve been looking for a copy of the whole draw which I can read – my usual results site doesn’t have one.

  • Chazz · January 12, 2018 at 10:26 am

    I always forget about Goffin, but he could definitely make it to the SF or final. Dimitrov made the semis last year at the AO and I think he’s playing better this time around. Time for him to get the monkey off his back. I do agree that Kyrgios is the wildcard because when he’s at his best he can beat anyone.

  • Hartt · January 12, 2018 at 10:44 am

    Catherine, here is one version of the men’s draw. Have not looked at the women’s yet.

  • catherine · January 12, 2018 at 10:48 am

    Thanks. I’ll go on the site. Should have thought of that first.

  • Hartt · January 12, 2018 at 10:53 am

    Catherine, I had that bookmarked, but I can’t find this version of the draw on the site now. I don’t like the way the AO site is set up, but it is better than nothing. The Wikipedia entry for the AO has the seeds for the men and women and who they face in the first round.

  • catherine · January 12, 2018 at 11:40 am

    OK – I’ve seen the Wikepedia and I’ve located the draw on Flashscore so I think that’ll do. I can locate the players I was interested in.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 12, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Very easy to forget about Goffin as no expert ever discusses him as a potential GS winner. Everyone just considers him lucky to be in the top ten but he continues to push beyond the limits put on him. He certainly is capable of shocking the world in Melbourne. Or Paris, London or US Open.

  • Joe Blow · January 12, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    The AO site is horrible this year, though quailes are being streamed..

    No man outside the top 20 is winning a Major! TJohannsen was the last big surprise, but you have to take into account he got to play Safin in the final, with 5 strippers in Safin player box..
    Thiem, Dimitrov and maybe AZ have shots if things go their way. Kyrgios will have to prove he’s mentally fit to last 7 best of five setters

  • Moxie · January 13, 2018 at 1:16 am

    I agree about Goffin, and doubt any players are underestimating him, at this point. More likely a spoiler at the big tournaments, don't you think? But I find it hard to pick against him. What if it comes down to him and del Potro in week 2? (I need a tip for my draw challenge.) 🙂

  • Andrew Miller · January 13, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    “best of three set champs” – for the men that’s the issue. Slams don’t go to guys that have mastered the best of three set format.

    “performance anxiety” is the name of the women’s tour, as slams are same format as regular tournaments, but the pressure is greater and, with super Serena out, it’s about who stays intact to play their game.

    I find it hard to give any edge to a player that wants their first slam on the men’s tour. Federer said it himself that he feels like he was given an edge in today’s game at slams because a bunch of tournaments had a best of five sets final. So he got practice for slams before slams.

    That’s not the case today where tournaments are appealing to audiences and sponsors for tv time. I regret the game slipping in stature.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 13, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Goffin vs Delpo is a very interesting match. Not sure if they have ever played, can't remember seeing them play each other or any scores. That's a 50-50 match but I would take Goffin right now.

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