Denis Shapovalov was naturally very disappointed after his straight-sets loss to Novak Djokovic but it has been a groundbreaking two weeks for the Canadian and he can be very pleased with his performances. He was more than in this against the world number one, he served for the first set and had chances in the match thereafter but that lack of experience at this stage of a slam proved crucial. One from eleven breakpoints tells its own story. We have seen Denis get tight in situations before and it understandably happened here. I really do not think this is going to be an issue going forward though, it is just a case of getting acclimatised. The problem is if you give Nole a second chance you are going to pay the price. Once again the top seed dialled into all the big moments, it wasn’t a flawless three sets but he did enough to stay around and then applied the pressure when necessary. Nole was telling the Serbian Press after that he has been suffering from deep stomach problems and though it is better, it is not at 100% yet. He is now only one match away from drawing level with Federer and Nadal at 20 and remains on for the calendar slam. A final note on this is that I liked Shapovalov’s words after “What frustrates me the most is I feel the game is there to go and win the trophy. It is a feeling I’ve never had before. I felt I was outplaying Novak in parts of the match and if you outplay Novak you can beat anyone.” That shows the belief is getting there.
Nole will play Matteo Berrettini in Sunday’s showpiece. I had tipped Matteo up at the start of the event and he is the only player to get over the line for me, winning his quarter and now ensuring the each-way part of the outright will payout. I was worried nerves could play a part in his semi-final against Hubert Hurkacz. The Italian served well and hit the big forehand to compliment it pretty well and it was Hurkacz who struggled to impose his game. Berrettini started running away with it from the middle of the opener and it took the Pole to play a decent tiebreak to extend this to four, 6/3 6/0 6/7 6/4. It has been a great story for Hurkacz making his first semi at a major and beating his idol on the way. One of the good guys of the game for sure. Berrettini has been riding the wave of confidence since Queens and fully deserves to have a crack at Nole. You could say he has been the outstanding grass-court player during this short period in 2021.
Can Berrettini beat Djokovic? The 1/5 (83%) with bookmakers suggest it’s a big ask and it obviously is. The pressure of history is something that could affect Nole, it doesn’t usually but now and again he can throw in a dodgy effort. The Italian is certainly feeling confident and good about his game, let’s see if he can impose it on Nole.
Andy Del Potro (Al Davies).