It takes a fair amount of confidence for me to jump into Denis Shapovalov at a decent sized game handicap, but 2021 has been a strange year on the tour.
I think this is the perfect match-up for the Canadian in the conditions at Flushing Meadows. Coming off a strong, confidence boosting win in round 1 against Federico Delbonis, Shapovalov will enjoy another round against against another claycourter in round 2. He looked incredibly solid in the conditions, posting a 6-2 6-2 6-3 win on day 2, and didn’t face break point across the course of the match. The 42% of points won against the first serve of Delbonis was also impressive, with a less imposing serve across the net in Spaniard Carballes Baena today.
Carballes Baena got the better of a very erratic Tommy Paul in round 1, getting over the line 7-6 6-2 1-6 6-3 in just over 3 hours. The first set tiebreak win was crucial, as it did take a bit of the edge off the match against a player that hasn’t always had a big tank to be able to dig in and turn a match into a grind. Whilst he did a great job of being able to turn the tables in the 4th set, it was a poor performance overall by Paul’s standards as well, which needs to be considered.
Confidence can come and go quickly with Shapovalov, which is worth considering when making a play on matches with him. My concern at times with Shapovalov on hardcourts, and other surfaces, is his return of serve being below par. I have this as more of an issue when facing bigger servers, as he struggles to use defensive shot making to find his way back to neutral court position and edge his way into a rally. I don’t see this weakness being as prevalent here today with RCB at the other end, and I am happy to make a solid play on Shapovalov to cover his game handicap/spread.
3.5 units Shapovalov -8 games vs RCB at $1.97 at Topsport
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