After a start to the Rogers Cup with plenty of surprises and shock defeats, the quarter-finals see an interesting lineup. One of the more intriguing match ups pits Frenchman Adrian Mannarino against rising young Canadian Denis Shapovalov. With the crowd sure to play a noisy role in backing their last remaining home hope, a great match should await.
As with most players on the tour, Mannarino has not yet met Shapovalov. With the Canadian being the youngest player ever to reach the quarter-
finals of a Masters 1000 event, he is yet to establish himself on tour. This does give the 29-year-old Mannarino the advantage in experience, he turned pro back in 2004. That being said, he has never won a Tour level title, nor reached the last four at a Masters 1000 event, so this is a big match for both men.
Path to the quarter-finals
Shapovalov has also had to endure a number of tough matches on his path to the quarter-finals. He began against Brazil’s Rogerio Dutra Silva. Shapovalov dropped the first set and came perilously close to defeat in the second set. He had to save four break points at 5-5 in the second set just to reach a tie break. He faced four match points, but saved them all, including one with a delightful volley. Having done so, he took the set when Dutra Silva double faulted when facing set point. Thereafter, the momentum was firmly with Shapovalov and he broke in the sixth game of the decider with a delightful backhand pass. He made no mistake when serving out the match and progressed into the second round.
In the second round, he faced his idol Juan Martin del Potro. The big Argentine was far from at his best in that match, with his forehand misfiring badly throughout. But that should take nothing away from the Canadian who was superb. He recovered terrifically from a wobble when serving for the match in the second set, to dominate the tie break and secure the win. That win earned him a chance to take on Rafael Nadal, the 15 time Grand Slam champion and world number two. Few would have give Shapovalov much chance of victory, particularly after he dropped the first set. But he took the second set with some superb tennis and resisted heavy Nadal pressure in the decider to reach a tie break. He recovered from going an early minibreak down to take it 7-4 and pull out the win of his career.
Mannarino began in the first round against Daniil Medvedev, who has been in some good form of late. But the Frenchman comfortably outplayed his younger opponent triumphing 6-3 6-1, in a match he dominated from start to finish. He then caused one of the shocks of the week in the second round where he came up against Milos Raonic. The Canadian doubtless had hopes of using the home crowd to stage a run in Montreal, but Mannarino had the better of him throughout. The Frenchman came through that match 6-4 6-4 to the disappointment of Raonic and his fans. The Canadian was far from at his best, and his struggles in 2017 continue. He next faced the young Korean star, Hyeon Chung, who was having a good week of his own. But Mannarino dismissed him 6-3 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals without having dropped a set.
How do they match up?
Shapovalov is the archetypal attacking baseliner down to his one handed backhand. Equipped with an excellent serve and powerful groundstrokes off both wings, he has all the tools to develop into a Grand Slam champion. Mannarino’s game, in contrast, is better suited to defensive baseline play. He has excellent ball retrieval skills but, like most French players, he is not without flair. Look to him to strike some winners from unlikely positions and deploy the slice backhand and drop shot to good effect. But the key to the match will be how well his defence stacks up against Shapovalov’s aggression. Give the Canadian the opportunity to hit mid-court balls and he will punish you. As a result, Mannarino will have to maintain good depth and width throughout. Shapovalov has demonstrated his ability to exploit angles and to hit hard to the corners.
Shapovalov has upset the odds all week, and few would have predicted that the 18-year-old would make it this far. But after victories against Nadal and Del Potro it seems difficult to bet against him. He has shown that with the backing of the Canadian crowd, he can raise his game to greater heights than one would guess an 18-year-old possesses. With a fast court suiting attacking play, and the backing of the Montreal crowd, Shapovalov should have enough to defeat Mannarino. Not being the underdog might complicate matters for him but not enough to deny him victory. Shapovalov in three.
Who do you think will win the match? Let us know in the comments below!
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?