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Denis Shapovalov vs Tomas Berdych ATP Rome Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Shapovalov opens Rome campaign against Berdych

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 15 May 2018
  • Denis Shapovalov vs Tomas Berdych is live from Rome on Tuesday, 15 May from 1:30pm local time/ 12:30pm BST
  • Berdych won a tight contest at Queen's last year in the only previous meeting between the pair
Denis Shapovalov. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Fresh off a superb semi-final run at the Madrid Open last week, Canadian young gun, Denis Shapovalov seeks another strong week in Rome, where he opens against Czech, Tomas Berdych.

Shapovalov had arrived Madrid without a tour-level clay-court win to his name, but he looked very assured on the surface in the Spanish capital, defeating Tennys Sandgren, Benoit Paire, Milos Raonic and Kyle Edmund to reach the last four. He however ran into a red-hot Alexander Zverev, who took out the Canadian in straight sets en route winning the title.

By virtue of that performance, Shapovalov rose to a new career-high ranking of No. 29, and with not much to defend through the rest of the European clay and grass court seasons, he has got a great shot of pushing that ranking even higher, top 20 possibly in the coming months. He has got to keep winning matches, obviously.

Shapovalov first broke onto the ATP World Tour scene in Montreal last season, when he defeated Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal to make an improbable Masters 1000 semi-final, before backing it up with a fourth-round run at the US Open. He faded a bit after that, winning just one tour-level match for the rest of the season.

The left-handed had a quiet start to the new year, falling early in Brisbane, Auckland and the Australian Open, he then reached the semi-finals at Delray Beach, winning back-to-back matches for the first time this year, before slipping into early losses in Acapulco and Indian Wells. His sinusoidal start to the season continued in Miami, where he peaked with a Round of 16 showing, but he dipped again as the season shifted onto clay, losing consecutive opening round matches in Monte Carlo and Budapest. Given his clay-court record, not much was expected from the youngster when he entered Madrid, but he has shown himself capable of handling himself on clay, helped by the Madrid altitude of course, and will be a marked man going forward.

Making his first ever appearance in Rome, Shapovalov takes on Czech veteran, Tomas Berdych in the first round on Tuesday.

Berdych had made a decent start to the season, reaching quarter finals at the Australian Open and Rotterdam; and the semi-finals in Marseille, but he has struggled for results after that, and arrives Rome on a three-match losing streak. He is yet to win back-to-back matches since reaching the Marseille semis in February. The Czech suffered successive third-round losses to Next Gen stars, Hyeon Chung and Frances Tiafoe at Indian Wells and Miami to wrap up a hard -court spell that promised a lot at the start but rather fizzled out in the end.

His luck has not changed on clay, losing to Kei Nishikori in Monte Carlo, and then to Richard Gasquet in Madrid. That’s a long way off the consistency of performance that made him a top-ten main stay. It’s very unwise to write anybody off- Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s renaissance are proof of that- but Berdych does seem to be on a steady decline. He finished 2017 ranked 19th in the world- the first time he would end a year outside the top ten since 2009. 

Berdych had a strange 2017- there were some really great results in there, most notably his semi-final at Wimbledon, but he was badly hurt by too many below par results, particularly at the big tournaments. At his prime, Berdych wasn’t winning many of these tournaments, but he constantly featured at the deep ends, something that was missing in 2017. He lost out in the third round at the Australian Open (understandable, given that he it was against Federer), but fell in the second round of the French and US Open to Karen Khachanov and Alexandr Dolgopolov. He also didn’t do too well at the Masters 1000 tournaments, making just one quarter final in Miami. A back problem forced an early conclusion to his season- he didn’t play again after Beijing- but he looked OK at the start of the year with those quarter finals and semis, only to slip into a poor run of form that has yielded just two wins in his last seven matches.

Can he steady the ship with a good run in Rome, where he was semi-finalist in 2013? He has made four other quarter finals; but has fallen in the third round in the last two seasons. 

Berdych defeated Shapovalov in their only previous meeting at Queen’s last year, but like the 7-6 6-7 7-5 score-line suggests, it could have gone either way. Shapovalov will like his chances of getting a revenge come Tuesday. The Canadian is the man in form; and possesses the stroke-making and dynamism to take out a struggling but there is always the chance Shapovalov could suffer some hangover following his Madrid exertions, in which case, the very experienced Berdych remains good enough to make the most of that.

Denis Shapovalov vs Tomas Berdych is live from Rome on Tuesday, 15 May from 1:30pm local time/ 12:30pm BST

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Denis Shapovalov vs Tomas Berdych ATP Rome Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Shapovalov opens Rome campaign against Berdych

Denis Shapovalov begins his Rome Masters campaign on Tuesday against Tomas Berdych. Can Shapovalov back up his strong week in Madrid? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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