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Djokovic vs Shapovalov ATP Rome Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Four-time champion, Djokovic takes on Shapovalov in Rome opener

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 16 May 2019
  • Novak Djokovic vs Denis Shapovalov is live from Rome on Thursday, 16 May from 1:00pm local time/ 12:00pm BST
  • Djokovic defeated Shapovalov in their only previous meeting at the Australian Open
Novak Djokovic. (Photo by A. Perez Meca/Alter Photos/Sipa USA)

World No. 1, Novak Djokovic begins his bid for a fifth Rome Masters title on Thursday when he takes on Canadian young gun, Denis Shapovalov in the second round. 

Novak Djokovic’s second-round match against Denis Shapovalov was postponed from Wednesday to Thursday due to heavy rain. The winner will face Philipp Kohlschreiber or Marco Cecchinato in the third round later on Thursday on Grandstand.

Following his success at the Australian Open in January, Djokovic had a surprising dip in form, falling before the quarter finals at Indian Wells and Miami, and losing to Daniil Medvedev in the last eight in Monte Carlo, but the Serbian was back to his best in Madrid last week, especially in his last latter stages, beating Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas to win his third title at the Caja Magica.

Those victories over Thiem and Tsitsipas had all the features of a prime Djokovic- precise deep hitting, tremendous defending, unrivalled court coverage and a refusal to be beaten. The Serbian was down a break in both sets against Thiem in the Madrid semi-finals, but he reeled in the Austrian, and stayed tough through two tie breaks to dig out a 7-6 7-6 victory. Djokovic was never really in any danger against Tsitsipas in the final, pulling off the 6-3 6-4 victory without giving away a single break point. 

Djokovic spoke in Madrid about building up his form and peaking at Roland Garros, and he is well on course for that- another strong week in Madrid would set him up nicely for Roland Garros, where he will attempt to claim a second title, and complete a clean sweep of all four majors for the second time in his career.

Such a scenario would have been unimaginable at this time last year, with Djokovic struggling for form, having missed the second half of 2017, amd undergone elbow surgery in after the 2018 Australian Open. Heading into the Rome Masters, Djokovic was 6-6 for the season and was down at No. 18 in the world, but the first signs of a return to form were manifested in Rome, where he made his first semi-final of the season. He then reached the quarter finals at Roland Garros and the final in Eastbourne before hitting full gear with a title run at Wimbledon. The 31-year-old added further titles at the US Open, Cincinnati and Shanghai as he finished the year at No. 1 in the world, completing the most remarkable transformation.

Given how last season transpired, Djokovic's return to form in Madrid is ominous for the rest of the tour, and he will attempt to drive home that point in Rome, where he starts against Denis Shapovalov on Thursday.


Shapovalov arrived Rome on a four-match losing streak, and a 0-3 run on clay, losing tournament openers to Jan-Lennard Struff, Cristian Garin and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid respectively, but he avoided a fourth straight opening round defeat in Rome, beating Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3 7-6 on Monday.

Shapovalov's serve provided the foundation for the win, as he won over 70% of points on both his first amd second serves, and did not offer up any break points. One area he will want to improve on going into his match against Djokovic is his break point conversion rate, as he converted just one of twelve opportunities against Carreno Busta. He will not get away with numbers like that against Djokovic. 

Shapovalov can certainly play on clay, like he showed last season, when he made the semi-finals in Madrid, and the third round in Rome. Away from clay, he also reached semi-finals on the hard courts at Delray Beach and Tokyo in 2018, en route securing his highest year-end ranking of 27th. He broke into the top 20 in March after making the semi-finals in at the Miami Open, but that effort was followed by a four-match losing run, which has pulled him to 22nd in the world, going into the Rome Masters.

Shapovalov's semi-final run in Miami has salvaged what has been a pretty average season for the Canadian. He made quarter finals in Montpellier and Rotterdam, reached the fourth round at Indian Wells, and the third round at the Australian Open. Amidst all of that, he has had five opening round defeats, all adding up to a 12-10 record for the year.

His cause has not been helped by this Rome draw, and he will start as the firm underdog in his second round against Djokovic.

Shapovalov took a set off Djokovic in their only previous meeting at the Australian Open, (and Djokovic responded by winning the next set to love!), but with the form the Serbian showed, and the extra confidence he must have derived from battling past Thiem and dispatching Tsitsipas in Madrid, he should be far too solid for Shapovalov on Thursday. The chances of an upset on the slow clay courts at the Foro Italico are very remote.

Novak Djokovic vs Denis Shapovalov is live from Rome on Thursday, 16 May from 1:00pm local time/ 12:00pm BST

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Djokovic vs Shapovalov ATP Rome Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Four-time champion, Djokovic takes on Shapovalov in Rome opener

Novak Djokovic takes on Denis Shapovalov in the second round of the Rome Masters on Thursday. Will the Serbian continue his winning streak from Madrid? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online

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