Fresh from securing his spot at the ATP Finals, Alexander Zverev looks to improve to 3-0 over Denis Shapovalov when the two young guns clash for a spot in the Rolex Paris Masters quarter-finals on Thursday.
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Alexander Zverev and Denis Shapovalov square off for the third time at ATP Masters 1000 level on Thursday with a place in the Rolex Paris Masters quarter-finals on the line.
It’s been a difficult and challenging season for Zverev, and as such, he arrived in Paris having still not secured his place at the Nitto ATP Finals in London. However, that’s all changed after a chaotic day of play on Wednesday, with several London contenders bowing out in Paris and as a result, Zverev has become the seventh player to stamp his ticket to the season-ending championships. The German won the biggest title of his career so far at the ATP Finals last year, beating Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer on his way to the silverware and becoming the youngest year-end champion since Djokovic in 2008.
“I am really happy to qualify for the third consecutive year,” said Zverev. “Winning the title there last year has been the highlight of my career so far. I have such great memories of The O2.”
It’s too early to say if Zverev is starting to recapture his best tennis, but the signs are encouraging after he beat the likes of Federer, Andrey Rublev and Matteo Berrettini to make the Shanghai Masters final earlier this month, where he was beaten by Daniil Medvedev. Zverev also registered a dominant 6-1 6-3 victory over Fernando Verdasco – a man he has struggled against in the past – in his Paris Masters opener, winning 33 of 38 points on serve. But, for all those good results, Zverev did lose in straight sets to Taylor Fritz in the opening round of Basel last week, so the 22-year-old will need to reel off some more eye-catching results if he is to be thought of as a genuine chance of defending his ATP Finals title in a couple of weeks.
As mentioned, it’s been a rough season for Zverev, who has split with coach Ivan Lendl and remained involved in a messy dispute with his former agent. Zverev’s best results have included winning the 250 title in Geneva, finishing runner-up in Shanghai and Acapulco, reaching the quarter-finals of Roland Garros and semi-finals in Hamburg and Beijing. Those are solid results for a lot of players, but after winning the ATP Finals last season, Zverev was expected to go to the next level and challenge for majors, but instead he’s gone backwards. In saying that, the German is still only 22 years of age and he’s got plenty of time to mould into a champion player. Can Zverev continue his encouraging run of form in the Round of 16 on Thursday?
Denis Shapovalov (PA Images)
Denis Shapovalov will prove a tough opponent to overcome, even if Zverev has won all four sets they’ve played, with all of them coming in Masters 1000 semi-finals. Shapovalov is also ending the season in promising form, winning his maiden ATP title in Stockholm two weeks ago and defeating Gilles Simon via retirement and 11th seed Fabio Fognini in three sets to advance to the Paris Masters Round of 16 for the first time.
Shapovalov first burst onto the scene two years ago in Montreal when he conquered Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal to surge into his maiden Masters 1000 semi-final, before reaching the fourth round of the U.S. Open and ending his breakout season in the top 50. Shapovalov would go on to reach the Madrid Masters semi-finals the following season and generally did a solid job of establishing himself on the ATP World Tour, reaching more semi-finals in Delray Beach and Tokyo, quarter-finals in Eastbourne and St. Petersburg and making the fourth round in Miami and Rome Masters as he cracked the top 20. The 20-year-old would make another Masters 1000 semi-final in Miami earlier this season, but he didn’t back-to-back matches again until August, with his ranking dropping outside the top 30 as a result. However, courtesy of his title triumph in Stockholm, the Canadian’s ranking is back up to No. 28 and he can climb even higher if he can claim an upset win over Zverev.
Shapovalov has played Zverev twice before at Masters 1000 level, with both matches coming in semi-finals in Canada two years ago and last year in Madrid. Zverev won both matches in routine straight sets and with the German seemingly getting back to some of his best tennis, he’s got to be considered the favourite again. Shapovalov is also returning to his top level, but with the pressure lifted when it comes to the ATP Finals, Zverev should be able to swing freely and claim a third straight win over his young rival.
Zverev vs Shapovalov ATP Paris live streaming, preview and tips – Zverev targets third straight Masters 1000 win over Shapovalov
Fresh from securing his spot at the ATP Finals, Alexander Zverev looks to improve to 3-0 over Denis Shapovalov when…
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