AO 2021 – Denis Shapovalov vs Jannik Sinner

First round of a major always brings out some interesting round one matches and The Australian Open has not failed to deliver.

Denis Shapovalov who impressed at the ATP Cup but left winless is up against Jannik Sinner who was unbeaten all week picking up his second career title at 19 years old.

It’s a big year and a big tournament for Denis and I feel this match is important to him. He is currently on a six match losing streak and hasn’t won a match in over 3 months since the 16th of October. I was hoping we would see more of a killer instinct in his game but it is soo good up to a point and he’s falling against players in latter stages of sets.

He plays with a lot of flair and excitement and has pulled a lot of that together, he is coached by his mum, Tessa and Mikhail Youzhny and both have done a fantastic job but now I feel we need that ruthless streak. I saw enough in the defeats to Zverev and Djokovic which made me think he could of won the matches. I also felt that in defeats to Rublev and Schwartzman at the back end of last year.

It’s either very closer or messy and it showed in French Open and US Open defeats to Carballes Baena and Carreno Busta respectively, it got messy quite quickly.

I don’t think he can afford for it to get messy, Jannik Sinner plays with grit on the baseline. For someone who is just 19 years old he’s playing smarter tennis than many who are older than him.

Everything does seem quite measured from Sinner even on the stretch, his ground strokes are hit with precision and belief. I watch Jannik Sinner and believe he will find solutions and he was immense in the semi-final of Great Ocean Road Open against Khachanov. He won in over 3 hours and was sensational in the final to win back to back titles.

My worry for Jannik? He looks tired, he’s played a lot of tennis and it’s unfair the way the tournaments were scheduled and no push back for players who actually hung around to play this weekend.

Jannik Sinner is on a 10 match winning streak but has spent a lot of time on court and hasn’t had a day off where as Denis Shapovalov hasn’t been on court since Wednesday but is on a six match losing streak.

image credit – Reuters

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