By contrast to Russia, Canada had to scrap for a semi final berth in the Group stage. They had to beat Sascha Zverev’s Germany in what ended up being a 2-0 sweep in the tie. Canada, always a dangerous unpredictable side have got young up and coming players Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger Aliassime Focus for today is on Denis Shapovolav, the number two seed from Canada, who faced unheralded Roman Safiullin. Roman is ranked 167 in the ATP rankings is only there because Rublev and Karatsev. Like a lot of his countryman , he was very good at junior level but is finding the transition to seniors a different kettle of fish. So far he has handled himself well with a victory over Duckworth of Australia so far. If you ask me he was close to winning the first set here. His major strength is the forehand cross court groundstroke (check out first set 1-1(15-40). His major weakness is that he wants to win almost every point such that he rushes into attempting the winner unnecessarily. Because of that he gave away a lot of break point opportunities to Denis. Denis was serving solid in the match at 66% first serve so it was a matter of time until he close the match after winning that third game. Part of why he was good on serve was his service motion. Watch 3-2(15-15). Don’t think any player on Tour leans back on the kicker as far as Denis does as a result he gets the big bounce as well as the power. Shapovalov fired 13 Aces in the match.
The second set was just as close as the first. It was the turn of Roman to be solid on serve. He changed tact and began to attack the net more to good effect. Both courageously held serve until the twelfth game (Roman seemed to work the hardest going into deuce on two of his). Denis losing his concentration at 6-5(30-30) playing his favorite forehand cross court shot long. He dug himself into some hole in that game and on deuce he finally cracked and handed the set to Roman. Watch 6-5(adv Roman). Denis got too much under the ball on the overhead smash. The tonic was to let it bounce then go for the smash.
A set apiece going into the final set. In truth there was very little separating the two in this match, it was down to the minute detail of who makes the first mistake. Denis was able to make up for the 8 unforced errors with his ACE game, if it was off it would have been a different story. That serve dug him from another whole in the fourth game at 2-1 Safiullin. A total of seven break points for Roman in that deuce game of which he failed to convert. He was duly punished for it in the seventh game at 3-3 in something of his own making netting a routine backhand at 30-40. Again going for the Hail Mary shot when the simple thing would have sufficed( a backhand slice to clear the net). Canada led 1-0 because of Denis’s win here but Daniil Medvedev leveled the tie later against Felix A.A hitting the Canadian for love in the second set for a straight sets win. It is up to the doubles today to see who goes to the final against Spain on Sunday.