Montreal R3 previews and predictions: Nadal vs. Shapovalov, Zverev vs. Kyrgios

The night session in Montreal on Thursday will see Rafael Nadal go up against surprising third-round performer Denis Shapovalov. Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios are also aiming for a place in the quarterfinals.

(1) Rafael Nadal vs. (WC) Denis Shapovalov

Nadal’s draw at the Rogers Cup has opened up nicely, to the extent that his path to No. 1 in the world is clear. The top-seeded Spaniard must reach only the semifinals to officially regain the highest ranking next Monday, but for a moment the likes of John Isner, Juan Martin Del Potro, and Milos Raonic were in the way. No more. Isner and Del Potro had to square off in round one (the Argentine prevailed in straight sets), Del Potro promptly lost his next match to Shapovalov, and both Raonic and David Goffin have also tumbled out of that section of the bracket.

The immediate result is an unexpected showdown between Nadal and Shapovalov on Thursday night. On the heels of an opening bye, the world No. 2 had no trouble advancing with a 6-1, 6-2 beatdown of Borna Coric on Wednesday. Shapovalov saved four matches to get through his opener 4-6, 7-6(8), 6-4 over Rogerio Dutra Silva before downing Del Potro 6-3, 7-6(4). The 18-year-old Canadian, who registers at 143rd in the rankings, has picked up the fourth and fifth ATP-level match victories of his career (compared to seven losses). Perhaps drained both mentally and physically, Shapovalov may not have enough left to seriously trouble a well-rested and in-form Nadal.

Pick: Nadal in 2

(4) Alexander Zverev vs. (16) Nick Kyrgios

Zverev and Kyrgios were slated to square off in the Washington, D.C. third round, as well. Kyrgios, though, was still dealing with a hip injury and he retired from his first-rounder against Tennys Sandgren. That left the door wide open for Zverev and the 20-year-old German walked through it, ultimately capturing the fifth title of his career. Fast forward one week and Kyrgios is back in business, ready to challenge his good friend and occasional doubles partner. The 24th-ranked Australian has destroyed Viktor Troicki and Paolo Lorenzi without dropping more than three games in any set, improving his 2017 record to an abbreviated 21-10.

Like Shapovalov (and several others in Montreal), Zverev has found himself one point from boarding a plane for Cincinnati. Instead, the world No. 8 survived a 49-shot rally and recovered to beat Richard Gasquet 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(3) in a second-round thriller. Zverev is now an incredible 42-13 this season, including 13-2 in his last 15 matches dating back to Halle. He does, however, have some odds stacked against him. Montreal’s eighth seed is coming off a long week in Washington, D.C. and he is 0-2 lifetime against Kyrgios–with losses earlier this year in Indian Wells and Miami.

Pick: Kyrgios in 3

117 Comments on Montreal R3 previews and predictions: Nadal vs. Shapovalov, Zverev vs. Kyrgios

  1. Nadal was tentative throughout the match without any aggression, ball toss was chronically too low depriving him from getting proper arm extension, high loopy shots with very little depth and standing way too far behind the baseline receiving serve, the latter of which is always a telltale sign that Nadal is too nervous.

    His strength used to be playing one point at a time, not thinking about the past nor the future. He has lost this very powerful tool, and virtually admits this after the match when he says: “when you have 18, to don’t hold the nerves. In my opinion, is much more easy when you have 18 than when you have 30.”

    Nadal key quotes:

    “Yeah, obviously is a tough lose for me. Is a bad lose. Probably is the worst lose of the year we have, without a doubt, for me.

    That’s like this. He play well. I play really bad.”

    “At the same time because of the opportunity I had here to come back to the No. 1. Always tough, but the draw was not that impossible after all the matches that were happening. So was an important mistake for me.”

    “I make too many mistakes in important points. In all terms, I cannot be happy about the things that I did.”

    “All the time I was waiting for his shot. I didn’t went for the shots. I didn’t feeled the ball tonight. That’s it.”

    That last statement says it all.

    No doubt Shapovalov is a nice young raw talent with unknown potential but this loss had everything to do with Nadal thinking about No. 1 on the line.

    Poorest match for Nadal this year, and many would have beaten him with that form. It might be an indication of how the rest of the year plays out for him, and by association, Federer. This was a significant step back for him, quite possibly much more than just a bad day at the office.

    As I say yesterday, Federer owns this season (not unlike Djolovic did in 2011), until Rafa shows us he can step up his game. This was a step in the wrong direction.

    • Lucky for me, I placed a nice wager on the young Canuck when Nadal broke back in the third set and odds shot up against the upset so not all is lost!

      I might double down and let it ride on Federer to win outright in Montreal but that is only now paying 1.4 with Nadal out – should be easy money though. Also worth betting on him to win Cincy outright under the faster conditions even better suited to his game – no one looking like they can threaten him there at the moment.

    • Yeah, Rafa was obviously thinking about the no.1 ranking despite him saying otherwise. It’s always the case with him these days, when something important to him is on the line, he becomes very nervous. It’s only on clay that he’s able to overcome his nerve well enough not to let it affect him.

      I think the best thing that may happen for him is for Fed to get the no.1 ranking and so Rafa can just forget about it and plays freely and not expecting much. However, I’m not sure Rafa (and Fed) are just happy playing without having a good ranking or be at the top of the rankings, and winning important titles.

      I certainly don’t believe both Fed and Rafa, for saying that they play because they love the game (at least to me it’s more than just the love for the game); its about winning the big prizes and staying relevant. They certainly enjoy the adoration given or shown to them by their fans, and the importance and respect shown to them by tournament directors by giving them favorable Centre courts to play on, and not some small side courts.

      Fed said it himself, that he’s not sure he would enjoy playing in the smaller side courts (I think he really enjoys and loves all the adoration showered on him all these years). Rafa said that if he no longer can improve, he will stop playing. So, both of them are certainly not just playing for fun or solely for the love of the game, but also for the competition, the big prizes and the attention shown to them!

    • Alan Smithee,

      Thanks for that comprehensive analysis and quoting what Rafa said about what that match meant to him. Also Luckystar is crystal clear on the point about Rafa and Fed not exactly playing for fun. Playing for the well deserved adoration rings true for both but I cannot see Fed dropping like Ferrer allowed himself and playing on side court. Certainly not doing what Youzhny does: play qualifiers. I think returning to #1 is important to Fed as well as Rafa — not as important as winning big titles but indeed it’s part of why they play. Nothing wrong with all that — it makes sense.

      And congratulations Smithee on your smart wager!

      Commies to dear Rafa and his fans.

    • Thanks @Alan Smithee. Interesting take from Rafa, so being #1 was messing with his head? Colour me surprised, I did not think #1 was a priority for Rafa or that it bothered him that much. Guess I was wrong.

    • I really doubt that if Rafa reaches the final here, he would lose to Fed. I feel both of them are not playing well at the moment, the other players too. I mean there are ridiculously so many matches going the distance here and some players having to save MPs before winning. Upsets are everywhere – Thiem, Kei, Raonic, Rafa, etc.

      Rafa was unfortunate to face a local young gun who played inspired tennis without fear, going for broke with the whole arena of spectators supporting him the local boy. It’s obvious Rafa was simply too tense and played tentative tennis. Fed was fortunate to have Ferrer, a player he owned all along, so he knew what to expect from Ferrer. At least the whole arena wasn’t supporting Ferrer!

      • To be honest, Rafa wasn’t at his best yesterday by a long way. At his best he would have won in straight sets.

      • Uncle Toni told Rafa in ‘La Decima’ that he thinks too much. He’s a great player, he should just go on court and play his game.

        • Agreed, nadline. I think it’s Toni who made Rafa played the way he played, i.e. a thinking tennis player, not an instinctive player. It’s difficult for Rafa to change the way he plays now that he’s 31. I really feel that Rafa has the making of a much more offensive player than he is now, too bad it’s not meant to be.

          I agree, Rafa’s game is much more polished and much better than Shapo’s, who plays go for broke tennis, it’s either hit or miss for Shapo. It’s Rafa’s poor play that let Shapo had his way, if Rafa plays well enough the next time they meet, I’ll bet that Rafa will beat Shapo.

  2. “It is probably my worst loss of the year because I lost against a player with a lower ranking. At the same time, because of the opportunity I had here to come back to No. 1. Always tough, but the draw was not that impossible after all the matches that were happening. So it was an important mistake from me.” – Nadal. In other words he choked.

    • This is an example of lack of class! Too bad some have to make these statements to try to rub it in with Rafa fans.

      Such a shame. But I do appreciate the grace and decency of rc with her kind words for Rafa fans. This was a tough loss for us. Rafa took a big step backward and it’s disappointing with the #1 ranking on the line.

      I don’t know for sure if it was about the pressure of being #1. Rafa’s been there before. But Rafa just let this kid play his game. He played well against Muller. That was the difference. Muller just played the match of his life. But this loss is hard to tske because he did not play well at all.

      I appreciate those who have expressed their opinions in a reasonable way and are not about goading Rafa fans when we are feeling down.

      • I’m not trying to goad you guys lol. I was just adding my thoughts on it. He lowkey choked that’s all I’m saying. Fed’s choked before too. Even the top guys have done it before.

    • Nothing unclassy about this quote from Benny; it’s direct from Rafa’s mouth, honest and true.

      Perhaps, NNY, you should try not to take the loss of a highly paid and decorated professional athlete so personally?

      As Rafa often says, ‘At the end of the day I lost a tennis match. Is not a big deal, no?’

      • Joe,

        Why don’t you keep your thoughts to yourself. I don’t need your patronizing, condescending attitude. You don’t know anything about me.

        I wasn’t talking to you, it was a cheap shot . Rafa did not use the word “choke”.

        I don’t need lectures from you. If you knew anything about me, you would realize that I had a health crisis a few months ago and am thankful to still be here.

        I will manage to survive Rafa’s losses just fine. But I will remember how you acted. Let’s see how funny you think it is when Fed loses.

        For now I have nothing more to say to you. Just not worth it.

  3. luckystar AUGUST 11, 2017 AT 12:51 PM
    Yeah, Rafa was obviously thinking about the no.1 ranking despite him saying otherwise. It’s always the case with him these days, when something important to him is on the line, he becomes very nervous. It’s only on clay that he’s able to overcome his nerve well enough not to let it affect him.

    You say that, but he still held his nerves to win his 10th Monte Carlo, Barcelona and RG one after the other.

    • This is why I said that I am not sure if it was all about the #1 ranking on the line. That should inspire a player to do well. Rafa has been ther and would know what that pressure is like to go for #1.

      Maybe lucky has a point that on clay Rafa is more confident overall. But Rafa has shown that he can play great tennis I hard courts. Even earlier this year.

      I am baffled by his performance last night because it was such a big step backwards. Playing too far behind the baseline and ceding court positioning to Shapovalov. Poor serving. Poor ROS. Not going to net and volleying and being aggressive. All facets of Rafa’s game suffered.

      I did see him kind of waiting for Shapovalov’s shots instead of taking the initiative.

      I wanted to come here and have the chance to commiserate with my fellow Rafa fans.

  4. Rafa needs a touch of arrogance. He should have gone on court yesterday thinking Shap is not even fit to tie his shoe laces and play like a champion; instead he was playing like a mouse because he listens to the hype of the Next Gen.

    • ^Again I am in complete agreement! Rafa firs need some arrogance. He should have gone out there and taken control and the heck with the crowd. Rafa has dealt with hometown crowds before. He did it in the first set. But then he lost the plot.

      Rafa needed to play like the great champion that he is, but he was passive and uncomfortable and let Shap pretty much dictate points. You can look really good if the other player is giving up ground by posing way behind the baseline. It’s easy to hit winners when you are given good court positioning.

    • I think it is more like he is such a favorite it is tough to play super freely. Because you have more pressure because you are an obvious favorite and don’t want to lose to a young up and comer.

    • Yes, and NO. If he played exactly like that yes. But most probably he wouldn’t have been so nervous against players he knows well like Isner or Mannarino. His play was influenced by the energy brought in the field by a fresh, relatively unknown Shapovalov and home support. And Rafa got nervous and that translated all those technical errors including that distance behind the baseline when returning which looks awkward on HC.

  5. Rafael said in an interview last year that he would do anything to become #1. So that must have been on his mind.
    didn’t watch the match but am very very disappointed. I thought he would win the whole tournament.
    was moya still not there as at Wimbledon? because Rafa needs him…

    • disappointed is an understatement.. I am really cross..wonder if the loss to muller was playing on his mind..

      • Amy,

        I am glad to see you here so that we can support each other after this disappointing loss. I am angry or cross as you say. Rafa is healthy. He’s been playing well this year. There was no excuse for the performance because it reminded me of 2015 Rafa. He was just not competing. With the #1 ranking within his grasp, he gave it away.

        I am beyond frustrated.

        • I didn’t see the match nny. what was your take on it? do you think the #1 ranking being up for grabs affected him?
          I am very frustrated by this loss.
          was Carlos still not there as at Wimbledon? I want to see him back pronto….
          hope you’re not feeling too upset nny..

          • Amy,

            I did see the match, unfortunately. I can’t say what was in Rafa’s mind. What I can say is that he looked like the Rafa of 2015. He was good in the first set, getting the one break needed to take it. But things seemed to change in the second set. Shap kept going for his shots, playing aggressive and swinging for the fences. Go for broke tennis. Then Shap broke Rafa for the first time in the second set and that seemed to get him pumped up. The dynamic shifted in the match. Rafa was playing well behind the baseline and just playing too safe. He wasn’t taking the initiative. I thought he would break back, but he would end up having a number of break points and not converting them. Shap got more confident as the match wore on. He basically took what Rafa gave him. With Rafa standing so far back, Shap was free to blast winners with the good court positioning. He was dictating play. Rafa tried to change his position when returning serve with mixed results.

            Rafa was so passive in the match. I found myself gettIng really angry as I was yelling at Rafa to move up closer to the baseline. He wasn’t serving as well either. He also would miss wide open shots that he would normally make 99% of the time.

            Rafa tried to hang in there in the third set. He had his chances to break, but couldn’t get it done. The more Shap fought off break points, the stronger he got. Rafa kept playing defensive tennis from too far behind the baseline. Shap was able to hit winners almost at will. It was so maddening to watch!

            Rafa said it all in his presser. His worst match of the year. I watched helplessly as he ketvit slip away. Even being up 3-0 in the third set tb, he then made some bad errors and lost the advantage.

            I thought Rafa just gave this match away. It was awful.

        • NNY, I read what Fed said after his win over Agut (didn’t watch the match); he said it’s difficult to control the ball here at Montreal (he’s poor vs Ferrer), so he decided to play more aggressively by stepping inside the court more often (he approached the net 25 times I think winning most of them).

          Agut said the same thing about the ball, Rafa too talked about the difficulty in controlling the ball here(he said he can’t ‘feel’ the ball). The difference between Rafa and Fed is that Fed chose to be aggressive but Rafa chose to be conservative, stayed well behind the baseline to play defensive baseline tennis.

          Apparently the court (and the ball) here rewards the aggressive tennis style, hence Shapo’s go for broke tennis is > Rafa’s defensive baseline tennis!

          I think the court + the ball here at Montreal are difficult to cope with hence there are so many upsets and so many three setters being played, only those who play aggressively and willing to take risk would survive.

          I think Rafa couldn’t get used to the conditions here (I saw from his body language that he was looking nervous in his two matches), and so he chose to play it safe by staying at the baseline instead of taking risk and stepping inside the court to play more offensive tennis.

          Watched his 2013 matches here at Montreal, he was so aggressive back then, playing close to the baseline and stepping inside the court more often, surprising Djoko, hence he was able to win the title there in 2013.

          What Rafa lacks now is still confidence, and he chooses to be more defensive and plays it safe; he said it himself, that he’s able to play aggressive tennis only when he feels confident.

          Apparently he wasn’t confident here, I think he didn’t have enough time to get used to the conditions here hence he wasn’t confident, he’s not a risk taker and so chose to play it safe. I do hope Moya was there, at least he could encourage Rafa to be more aggressive. Rafa practiced for three hours a day when he arrived at Montreal, but this time he wasn’t feeling it despite all those hours of practices.

          • Lucky,

            Thanks so much for that information. I didn’t really understand what Rafa meant when he said that he couldn’t feel the ball. So I appreciate you mentioning what Fed said about also experiencing the same thing.

            I now have a better understanding of the “why” of it. I was so frustrated by seeing Rafa play so defensively way behind the baseline. It makes sense that if he was uncomfortable with the balls and the court conditions that he would revert back to his old patterns.

            You helped me a great deal to understand what was going on with Rafa.


    • Thanks for posting this. I had read some quotes online from Rafa’s presser, but I always want to see him when he is discussing his matches. I want to see the expression on his face and I think here it said it all.

      I really appreciate Rafa’s honesty and forthrightness. One of his best qualities. What I still don’t know is the why of it.

  6. I think a lot of these comments are not giving Shapovalov credit. It’s not true that Rafa would have lost to anyone yesterday; he didn’t play *that* badly. On the other hand, it is true that Shapo would have beaten a lot of players with the way he played. The kid played huge in the big points, and never gave up, even playing an all time great. How many players do you know who have come back that many times in one match against Nadal? He’s 18, and he just beat del Potro.

    • Joe, as I said in a previous comment section, Rafa would have won yesterday almost against anyone on his side of the draw, if he had played that player before. Shapovalov was unpredictable and played in the same manner Ostapenko did against Halep in FO final. Nothing to lose attitude and full power combined with many mistakes. Then he became nervous and as a result adopted that defensive and ‘safe’ style. He won 5 points more than the Canadian. Everything was mental. I am not taking anything from Shapo. He has a bright future. I am glad he’s got one handed backhand, although his forehand was shining instead.

      • I agree that Nadal’s problems were partly mental. That’s almost true by definition when you consistently don’t play well in the big points. But I also think that Shapovalov had a lot to do with that by putting Rafa under a lot of pressure with his big hitting, both on serve and in the rallies.

    • Yes this is true. Shapovalov deserves huge props. He absolutely wrecked the ball and took it to Nadal. To do that at 18 with little experience and nerves is a hugely difficult feat.

  7. Rafa should not be that worried about this loss, but he is. It means he felt pressure. I hope he moves on like Federer did.
    We all need Rafa Fed rivalry, hope they meet in many finals this year and lift each others games. They are so healthy and in such a good form, they are the story of the year.

    • anatolijs,

      Thank you for your sentiments! It’s refreshing to read it! I agree with you! So nice to see you being supportive of both Rafa and Fed!

  8. I was so tired when watching the match that I fell asleep in the beginning even though it was the match I was most excited for. And Denis got it done!! LETS GO!!

  9. Why is moya not with rafa. ..he was not even there at wimby…I mean what is use of coach if he can’t be even at slams…rafa has only played well at events moya has been with him in…did you note.

    Rafa has to get to no 2 atleast and of Cincinnati to avoid fed in semis. ..that too not certain or is it sure ?

  10. Rafa did not play well, his W to UEs ratio was terrible, first serve less than 50% most of the match, his break point conversion was only 18%, played defensive and hitting short allowing his opponent to hit through him. In crucial moments he made uncharacteristic UEs! Overall very bad from Rafa! He would have lost to anyone yesterday with such poor attitude playing not to lose. Rafa was an easy target! Manarino would have beaten him playing like that…

    • No, Rafa’s stats weren’t that bad. Overall 1st serve pct. was 57%, winning 77% (won 56% of 2nd serves, also not bad). He saved 4/6 BPs, not bad either. Rafa was ahead in most statistical categories, including total points won and return points won. He could have easily won the match; obviously it was very close.

      Where he was really bad was in the big points. Obviously, he did a bad job converting break points, though a lot of those were winners by Shapo. But yes, Rafa hit a lot of easy shots into the net, played very defensively, and was generally tight.

      What’s important to see is that it wasn’t like that at the beginning. It was only when Shapovalov didn’t go away, kept going for his shots, and converting a lot of them on big points, that Rafa really started getting nervous and tightening up. Most players wouldn’t have reacted like that against Nadal, which is why I think people need to give Denis more credit. What he did was really unusual, considering who he was playing: a healthy, in-form Nadal.

      • @ Joe Smith,
        If we were talking about a top ten player as Rafa’s opponent I would say the stats were encouraging, but it was rather a young inexperienced player facing a 15GS champion! C’mon, how can you say Rafa played ok converting only 2 out of 11 break points and having worse return points won than this kid! Please, do not treat Nadal as mediocre player, admit he just played lousy match and made Sh… look good! Fed would have never allowed his game and would have changed the tactics mid match if he’d realized it was not working… Rafa failed on all counts…he should have done better than that! The worst indeed was Rafa’s play on key points induction of Rafa being insecure and not trusting his own game…Rada fears his ownself not his opponents…,

        • Nats is right; Joe trying to big up Shapo but it’s more of Rafa’s own undoing that he lost it! I mean even if we were to ignore all those BP chances, he was leading in the 3rd set TB 3-0 and yet managed to DF and from then on he totally lost it in the TB.

          Rafa was playing below par tennis the whole match, his first serve was a big problem, hitting so many into the net! Shapo just had to serve well, when Rafa was standing so far back to return, giving Shapo all the space to hit his lefty serve out wide! It’s the same problem for Rafa, vs Muller at Wimbledon, and vs Fed at AO.

          • It’s typical for a Fed fan to big up a young kid who beat Rafa. Now if it was Fed who was beaten we would be hearing the opposite. No surprise there!

            This was a match that Rafa could have and should have won!

            • I just wanted to add a thank you to nats for posting those stats!

              The idea that Rafa played well at all, is preposterous on its face! Even Rafa said it was his worst match of the year. He was critical of his game and honest sbout is as always. I prefer to take Rafa’s thoughts and analysis! He should know!

            • It is typical for a Rafan to deny how good someone like Shapovalov is after he beats Rafa. Did you watch the match? The kid is a beast!!

        • He didn’t play horrible. He just didn’t play that well. A bit too passive. Even the commies said that and these weren’t the tennis channel commies these were the high quality commies McEnroe and Fowler.

          • Oh please give me a break! The kid played really well, but Rafa was awful! Yet he still had a chance to win! What does that say?

            It’s typical of a Fed fan or Stan fan or a non-Rafa fan to gush and run out of superlatives when someone beats Rafa! Typical!

            Let’s see if this kid is the real thing! I have been watching tennis longer than you have been alive. I’ve seen a lot of young kids come out and make some noise and then slip into obscurity.

            What you are seeing is the caution and innate skepticism that comes with watching this sport and seeing young player come and go over decades.

            We will have to wait and see if Shap can back it up and continue to play well and get good results.

            • Oh, and Rafa said it was his worst match of the year! So who are you going to believe? Tennis commentators or the man himself? Rafa has no reason to denigrate himself or make it up. He knows his game.

              If anyone thinks that was Rafa even close to his best, then they either know nothing about his game or are living in an alternate reality.

            • Holy moly chill out. I watched the match from start to finish and didn’t think Rafa played awful. Maybe it’s because my definition of an awful match is making a bunch of unforced errors. I didn’t think Rafa made a bunch of those he just played way too passive. An example of horrible performances for me would be some of the matches Murray played at the start of this season and many matches from Fed in 2013 and quite a few matches from Nadal in 2015. Stop freaking out about me voicing my opinion. You and others likely think I typically root against Nadal in his matches when I don’t. I actually was rooting for Shapovalov cuz he’s a young gun at his home event who I’ve enjoyed watching on challenger tour for a while now but I would root for Nadal against Mannarino and Zverev. And if he lost to them the way he lost to Shapovalov I would say the same things. I simply don’t think Rafa played a god awful match. I think we saw lots of those from him back in 2015 when he was in that awful slump. I think he played not too goo and also came up against a kid with nothing to lose and a bunch of home support. This is my take. Also you are likely right about the watching longer than I’ve been alive thing lol!! Considering I just bombed a calculus quiz the other day haha

            • Okay I actually did not know he said that. I was doing homework as I watched so maybe I didn’t realize he was making a bunch of mistakes because I wasn’t fully alert regarding the match. If he made a bucket load of unforced errors I wasn’t aware of I’m really sorry honestly. I’m not trying to put Rafa down by saying he played well when he didn’t. Also in Rogers’s two losses this season I didn’t think he played badly there either if that makes you feel any better lol

            • I just watched the Rafa interview. He gave two reasons for saying it was “probably” his worst loss of the year:
              1. His opponent had a very low ranking.
              2. He had a chance to take over the #1 ranking in this tournament and missed it.

              Neither of those suggest it was his “worst” loss of the year in terms of how he played. Obviously, English is not Rafa’s first language so we shouldn’t read too much into it, but I don’t think those straightforwardly suggest that he thinks he played his worst tennis of the year. Which he didn’t, imo.

              True, Nadal said he played “really bad.” No doubt he didn’t play well. But as I’ve argued, his stats weren’t that bad, and those (like Nats) who concede that they weren’t bad if Rafa had played a top 10 player, but were really bad given that his opponent was low ranked, are failing to give the opponent credit.

              Obviously, Shapovalov didn’t play like a 150 (or whatever he was) ranked player, against Nadal or in general at this tournament. If he had, he would have gotten dusted. But he didn’t. Even his loss to Zverev was very competitive, and easily could have gone to a 3rd set. So, no, I”m not trying to “big-up” an opponent just because he beat Nadal. Like Benny, I watched the whole match (maybe more carefully because I wasn’t studying for a calc exam!). I saw a young kid play a terrific match to take down the (admittedly sub-par) #2 player in the world, in full health and good form. So I will repeat: that’s huge; give credit where credit is due, irrespective of his ranking.

      • Why should Shapo back off or go away, when he’s just an up and comer and had nothing to lose? I didn’t see Coric or Kyrgios or A Zverev backed off or went away when they played against Rafa (or Fed for that matter).

        As Rafa put it so well, when you’re 18yo, you can play like there’s nothing to lose but not when you’re 30! I doubt Fed or Rafa will play as freely as these 18yos now.

        • Because most players, when they fall behind one of big four, don’t have the fortitude to come back, much less keep coming back. Before Nadal helped him in the TB with the double fault, Denis had to win two big serves, not easy when you’re down 3-0 to Nadal in a 3rd set TB.

          The fact that Shapo followed up with a win shows you that he’s different from most players who have upset Nadal. Don’t be surprised to see him beat Zverev and give Fed a run for his money. This kid has something different in his attitude.

          • Joe, Shapo is no different from some other young guns who beat Rafa; they don’t have the baggage that those older players have vs the big four guys. They play with nothing to lose, and that’s from the mouth of Rafa! I think he knows better than any of us here how it feels, when he himself was also doing that when he’s 17 or 18 vs some veteran players.

            • Good for you on your correct call, Lucky.

              I disagree with you about Shapo, though. Time will tell as to how he goes. But I think he has an all-court game already, and he showed today that he’s not all about the big winner. He had quite a few points where he out-rallied Zverev, and in general I thought he played a pretty intelligent match, especially for someone who just turned 18. Zverev was just a bit better. But it will be interesting to see how Denis does the rest of the year, particularly when he doesn’t have a huge home court advantage. But getting to the SF of a Masters 1000, beating del Potro and Nadal along the way, at his age, is a huge accomplishment.

        • And, the biggest difference between Fed this year and the past several -by his own admission- is that he is playing freely again, without worry. If Rafa can recapture that attitude (off clay, where clearly he has it or doesn’t need it), then these losses won’t happen to him, imo.

  11. And unless Rafa changed this attitude to SURVIVE the match to dominating and winning it convincingly, we will be witnessing more of these terrible loses that kill Rafa’s confidence…Rafa needs some strong almost arrogant coach to remind him who he is!

    • Agreed Mira, it’s back to the drawing board, at least on non clay surfaces. Unless Rafa is just happy and contented to win only on clay, he really needs to confront his this problem honestly and not avoiding it and pretending that everything is fine.

      There are more and more big servers and hard hitters around, given that the younger up and coming generation players are playing this way, i.e. serving big and hitting as hard as possible, playing short point tennis to blow everyone off the court, don’t even care about point construction.

      Unless Rafa is prepared to play aggressive/offensive tennis by stepping inside the court, like he did on clay, he’s not going to beat these players when he plays defensively.

      • Yeah Lucky!…very true!…after the FO,i want to see his action at wimby so bad…not only to see how his knees will hold up on grass this year..but most importantly to see how ‘Rafa’ himself hold up on grass where he had his worse nightmare for the last 5 years…and after Wimby…it’s pretty clear to me that surface is his least problem now Lucky…it’s much deeper than that…

        Rafa is an OCD sufferer…his mind is not like us normal people…his mind like a 5 lane highway with a flyover criss cross each other with thousand of cars using it every minute…trying to organize things just so everythings in perfect condition like he want it…always thinking…now..try imagine how his mind will look like when he’s in the middle of the game just like Shapo’s match…when his mind full of chaotic thoughts,10th times busier than us.. trying to find a solution for the win..the more Shapo punished him,the more nervous he became..and more chaotic his thoughts are..after he lost the other day..i felt so angry,how can he lost in such a manner!..didn’t he know that this is his best chance to grab No 1 again?Didn’t he know that Shapo is just a kid who’s still wet behind the ears compared to him?

        But after i cool down and thinking about this carefully…i feel wanna cry so bad…i feel very sympathy for Rafa…he felt so nervous,he don’t know how to handle a point where he don’t know how to play his best tennis anymore…Uncle Toni should do something…in fact he should do something 2 years ago when Rafa was beaten endlessly,badly by every Tom and Dick…so he will not suffered much with every bad loss..and maybe…just maybe Rafa will not suffer like he’s suffered right now…

        • I think Toni was too harsh to Rafa from young, so much so that Rafa has become a timid young man lacking in confidence. It’s too late for Toni to do anything to change the way Rafa thinks.

          I do feel that Toni realized Rafa’s lack of confidence problem, saying that Rafa as a multiple slam champion should act like one and be more confident, but in my heart, I was thinking it’s all of Toni’s fault, and now Rafa has problems believing in himself, that he can be a world beater in tennis, that he can be better than anyone out there playing tennis.

          All Rafa thinks of, imo, is how to solve the problem out there that is his opponent in the match, but many times he overthinks, making life complicated for himself. To me, what Rafa should do is believing in his own game and his own abilities, not every opponent is a problem to solve, sometimes he has to and can take things into his own hands, kills the problem before it surfaces, ie plays dictating tennis from the get go, especially when facing a player for the first time, ie an unknown ‘problem’; or someone whom he knows will pose lots of problems for him ie a big server/hard hitter, and so he has to dictate play and not allowing his opponent to play his game, eg. against Stan at the FO final.

          Rafa can do all these on clay but sadly he has not shown that he’s able to do that on grass and the HCs. The addition of Moya may be the right move, as starting from playing on clay, Rafa has played a more aggressive brand of tennis – shortening points, stepping inside the court more often and approaching the net when he has the opportunities to do so.

          I feel Moya should accompany Rafa to more events than he’s doing now; Rafa needs encouragement and Moya’s softer approach (my guess) may be more encouraging than Toni’s uncle to nephew kind of talk (I can’t see Toni being gentle to Rafa after all these years of hard and harsh training). I do feel Rafa will listen to Moya, as Moya is a trusted friend of Rafa, someone Rafa really respects a lot.

        • And, I really hope Rafa can revert back to play tennis like the way he had played long time ago, that of 2004, when he was just an upstart and played a more offensive brand of tennis.

          People who had watched Rafa back then certainly won’t think that he’s a defensive player – he was stepping inside the court more often, approaching the net and winning points there more often though he was not yet a good volleyer. His match vs Fed at Miami had shown so much promises on the HCs even though he didn’t have a big serve. His match vs Agassi in the Montreal final in 2005 too, he wasn’t playing defensive tennis, but was being offensive and stepping inside the court when there were opportunities to do so.

          I wonder where had that Rafa gone, and now Rafa was being branded as a grinder! He certainly wasn’t one to begin with! His clay court season this year had shown so much promises, let me relived those earlier years of Rafa’s career, with new elements added in as he’s now more skillful a player. I wish he could continue playing that way going forward, regardless of the playing surfaces.

    • MA,

      Nice to see you here! I agree with you! That is exactly what I thought after that match ended. I don’t care how this kid played, Rafa was more than capable of winning that match. Even with how poorly he played, he still was in a position to win.

      • Hey Nny!…Nice to ‘see’ u too Milady! r u doin’ now?Okay?Sorry for unable to be here for u sooner Nny…my state of mind prevent me to come here after rafa lost…Sorry once again Nny…

        Yeah Nny…also agree with what u said…i am now very eager/anxious to see his possible match with Muller at Cincy..he is suppose to meet once again with Muller in 3rd round…let’s see how Rafa handle himself with a bad loss just behind him..and what’s more…Muller knows his weakness and will focus on that..

        • MA,

          I didn’t realize the draw was out for Cincy already! Muller again!

          I was really upset by this loss. With the #1 ranking right there for the taking! The way he lost is again what bothered me the most. Didn’t you say something about not wanting to see Rafa have another bad loss and give up another opportunity? I think you said it to Lucky when we were discussing Rafa’s prospects for the summer hard court season. I guess you were right to be cautious and concerned.

          You don’t ever have to apologize to me for not being there! You were there when it mattered most!

          • Yeah Nny…The draw was out already!..and rafa’s possible oponents are gasquet[2nd rd,Anderson 4th<<crap!considering Anderson's hot form atm]..Querry/Nishikori,Roger…so,take a look at how many big server's rafa has to face if he wants No 1 next week Nny!…

            Btw…yeah,like i wrote above…after Wimby things pretty clear to me..that's why i have a doubt over Rafa atm…and this is the beginning Nny…my prediction,things will be more uncertain at USO where he's also suffered the very bad loss in the last 2 years to Fog and Lucas…i'm saying this not because i'm pessimistic!…i just want to prepare u for the worst so you're not going to feel the pain much…it's very likely that he will not pass 3rd or 4th round once again Nny…Although i wish to God that Rafa will prove me wrong..i don't mind be embarrassed as long as he win…

            Btw Nny…thank u for still make me like a good Angel!..haha..honestly,till this day..i…still can't believe what i've done mean so much to u…and i'm really glad the simple things that i did actually was a big deal to u…I wish u will have a very healthy physical and happy life ahead of u Nny!…Vamos!!

  12. Denis SHAPO played fantastico(i didn’t misspell) and deserves all the credit.
    He was the better player and i knew that RAFITO won’t make it to the finals, i picked A. Zverev to defeat R. Federer but that might be a big mistake cos Roger Federer is INCREDIBLE and there is no player HOTTER than him right now, his SMOKING.

    He might lose this title but i see him winning the US OPEN and ending the season as #1, 3 slams in a year at his age is an inspiration even if he doesn’t win US OPEN.

    Roger Federer is truly AMAZING.


  13. Roger Federer is THE STORY OF THE YEAR!

    He has been UNBELIEVABLY AMAZING, pure inspiration.
    When am 36 and it’s going to take a looooooooong loooooooong time b4 i get there, i will remember Roger Federer as a GREAT CHAMPION not just because of his wins but his loses also.

    He wins with HUMILITY, loses in GRACE and does both with DIGNITY.


    He is one of the best and this is his year(2017), 2018 might also be his.

  14. Just watched some highlights.

    My take on Shapovalov:

    The boy was Rafa’s mascot in Rogers Cup 2008 and this week he beats Rafa in the same tournament. He played with a big heart and took risks. He was not intimidated and came out very animated right from the first game. The boy deserves praise as he played a great match.

    My take on Rafa:

    His performance was POOR. I said after the Muller match at Wimby that Rafa’s ROS struggles are sometimes compounded when he faces a good lefty server. The reason is lack of familiarity and of course lack of training against those lefty serves. Rafa can struggle with ROS against righties but he is much more used to the patterns and handles them better. IN this match, once again, he returned so poorly. His opponent was smart when he hit a lot of second serves to Rafa’s forehand. Those kickers moving away from Rafa’s forehand and with Rafa standing so far back was just not getting enough on the returns.

    Rafa’s groundstrokes were equally disappointing. Forget about when he was nervos (the third set TB), the ‘average depth’ on his groundstrokes was BAD.He was passive and I was really disappointed because I was expecting something similar to Montreal 2013.

    I am not too disappointed with Rafa’s serve. It was not really effective in this match but was not the biggest of problems.

    It would be silly to have high hopes at Cincy given his poor history. I guess Fed is going to cruise to no.1. I am not losing hopes for USO but Rafa better get back on track.

    You dominated clay season and had a very good hard court season as well before clay. COME ON MAN! get back on track! no excuse not to!

    • The problem with Rafa is that he’s standing too far back when returning from his FH corner, i.e. the ad court. It’s not only vs lefties, I was pissed with Rafa when he was returning from so far back during his match with Fed at the AO. Fed took full advantage of that, serving out wide time and again at the ad court and Rafa just refused to change his return position.

      Rafa could step forward to return from his FH corner, evident when playing against the big serving Raonic in the AO QF match. He returning from closer to the baseline worked well against Raonic, as Raonic stopped serving out wide at the ad court once he saw Rafa stepping forward to return serves. I wonder why Rafa wasn’t doing that vs Fed, Muller and Shapo.

      Rafa returned better from his BH corner, at least he stepped forward while returning 2nd serves from that corner.

      • not ideal to return from that far back on hard courts against righties as well but we need to understand that happens after he hits a bad/mediocre return. When he does that against a lefty, the ball goes straight to their forehand, begging to be punished.

        Like I said, ROS can often be an issue against righties as well but he can tend to get more clueless against strong lefty serves. For e.g., kick serves to Rafa’s forehand on the deuce court are moving into Rafa’s body when they are struck by righties but the same serves are moving away from him when struck by lefties. it is just that he is more familiar with those patterns. However, the ROS struggles are NOT at all restricted to lefties.

        • What Rafa should do is moves forward to return serves, cutting off the wide angle, perhaps even tries returning it DTL sometimes. At least varies the way he returns to keep his opponent guessing.

          He did well vs Raonic but refused to do the same vs Fed in the AO final. By cutting off the angle, he’s forcing his opponent to serve aces down the T and that will restrict his opponent’s choices, and seriously how many big servers could serve aces down the T so often without missing? Not even Raonic or Fed could consistently do that!

          Rafa’s ROS has really deteriorated, I don’t remember he had problems returning serves in the past. I don’t understand how come? Perhaps he’s slower now, or less confident with his own game in general?

  15. Nny….thanks for your reply yesterday..I am leaving my reply here so you don’t miss it.
    I didn’t see the match which makes it very hard to comment on it. I saw lucky’s post to you saying fed also had problems with the ball. So maybe that is part of it. But I still feel Rafa should have adjusted and won.
    I keep asking where Carlos is?!!
    I’ve said from the beginning he needs a counterbalance to toni. at
    Wimbledon I said I really believed he would win uso. But I thought he would win here…am very frustrated.
    Mira, am very sorry you are so upset…I agree with what you say
    sending you a big hugxxxx

    • Amy,

      I hope that my summary was of some help to you. Lucky and VR’s analysis should also help to give you a clear picture of what happened. If you had seen the match, you would be ten times more cross! It was frustrating beyond belief. Shap may have played well, but it’s not hard to hit winners when your opponent is camped out way behind the baseline. Rafa ceded so much ground that it was easy pickings for Shap to step up into the court and blast winners.

      I concerned about Moya’s absence. Rafa needs him.

      • Nny am sure I would have been very cross! Wish I had seen the match as it’s so hard to comment otherwise.. I was so sure he would play well..

    • Hey amy!…Thank u for your wonderful thoughts to me!..really really appreciate it amy!…Bout Rafa..yeah…i wonder whether his team notice the difference with rafa’s form when Moya was there with him and when he’s not…and whether they’re willing to change their earlier agreement based on Rafa’s current state? r u amy?Everything’s okay in your part of the world?Miss u here amy!…Lots!!

      • Am fine mira…hope you are okay??
        yes I was thinking the same about Carlos and hoping he will now be at the uso..
        Miss u too..
        Big hugs xxx

        • Hey back amy!…haha..u sounds like u wanna rush to somewhere!hehe..yeah i’m fine amy!..thank u for asking ma’am!
          Thanks for the big hugs!!

          • Sorry mira, I am posting on my phone and I have never done that before so it is hard to write!!
            I am thinking about you!!
            I would write more if I was on my computer.. xx

    • vr…augusta told me when I asked her back at Wimbledon that Carlos isn’t around for either Wimbledon or the NA season including uso. I was really fed up when I heard this… Carlos is good for Rafa.

  16. I don’t think we should be giving too much weigh to Rafa’s inability to handle anxiety etc etc. The guy has overcome nerves/anxiety quite consistently this season and he destroyed the field on clay. He even overcame his biggest mental hurdle , Djokovic ,who was not playing his best but still…

    It was weird he had this loss but I am not going to fret over this loss that much and rather wait to see him play Cincy/USO.

    • Rafa may meet Muller in R3 at Cincy if both get there. I’m not keen on seeing them play each other so early in the draw. It’s not looking good for Rafa at all this HC season. I doubt he will do well at the USO. Unlike 2010 and 2013, Rafa doesn’t show us that he’s confident, his body language during his two matches at Montreal told me so.

      It will be tough time for Rafa from now on as it’s HCs all the way, on quicker surfaces and then on indoors. I do think he should forget about the no.1 ranking and plays freely, plays like there’s nothing to lose.

      It’s upsetting that Rafa let his opportunity slipped away from him here at Montreal – Shapo and Mannarino are both beatable by Rafa, and by beating them to reach the SF, he would be no.1 already. He may then play with one less burden off his mind, who knows, that may motivate him to play better in the SF and possibly in the final!

      Right now he has more doubts in his mind; worse still, no Moya or Toni at Cincy during his practices to give him some tips and encouragement.

      • It’s a bad draw for both but I would say Rafa is the solid favorite if they play. Not sure who I will pick and honestly Muller may lose to Harrison round one and Rafa to Gasquet in round two. Gasquet did just have match points vs Zverev who is playing phenomenal tennis and looks like he will make the finals in Montreal. And Harrison has done a little more this hard court season than Gilles plus Gilles has cooled off a bit since Wimbledon. Still would probably have to favor a Rafa vs Muller matchup though.

    • I said that I thought Rafa was too passive in the match with Shap. I see in reading vr’s analysis that he thought the same thing. I also frktvther his groundstrokes were not penetrating enough. I see that vr mentioned the lack of depth on his groundstrokes. So that was why he was not getting penetration. Rafa said that he didn’t feel the ball. Lucky mentioned the problems with the balls and court conditions that both Fed and RBA also mentioned. But they were able to adjust.

      I am concerned about this loss. I don’t care how well Shap played. This match was on Rafa’s racket. It was a step backwards for him and a lost opportunity to become #1. Rafa cannot afford to keep giving up opportunities at this stage of his career.

      Montreal was always his best shot. Cincy is not as good for him. Fed will have the clear advantage there. Rafa also has to bump up against Muller again. Not good.

      Fed has the chance to win Montreal and Cincy now. I had high hopes for Rafa going into the NA summer hard court season. But now I just don’t know.

      • I understand your concern for Rafa, NNY. However, perhaps it will help Rafa to go into Cinci having not gone really deep in Montreal?

        • Kevin,

          Your posts have been great to read! Just a pleasure! You have a positive attitude. You are not mean-spirited at all.

          I am not giving up on Rafa for the rest of the NA summer hard court season. I am just not sure now.

          I don’t know if it helps Rafa in Cincy by losing early in Montreal. Rafa usually benefits from match play to get his rhythm and timing and confidence. Cincy has not been a great tournament for Rafa. He doesn’t have an easy draw there.

          I thought his draw opened up in Montreal and the opportunity was there for the taking to get the #1 ranking. At least Rafa realized that he blew a big opportunity.

      • NNY, it sure was on his racket. If he were playing like 20-25% better and still lost, I would not be that gutted. There were hardly any shots in the match hit by him which elicit those feelings when you see vintage Rafa. I think he was very poor and not playing well throughout the match was just added burden going into the TB.

        • vr,

          I am glad that you are here to give your thoughts. People here know that I was really upset by this loss, by the way he lost it. I did not see this coming at all. I don’t know how he rebounds in Cincy because that hasn’t been the best conditions for him.

          You said that you are not that worried. But I am concerned. Rafa gave that match away. That is not meant to disrespect Shap. But Rafa should have won that match.

          • Take heart. Even Rafa has off days sometimes.
            So, is #NextGen finally here? As a dedicated Rafan I guess I should root for Federer to lose, but I’d just as soon he won. I’m not quite finished with #ThisGen yet. Rafa will be either #1 or #2 going into the USO, and either works for me! I’d surely have signed up for this year at the beginning of the year!

            • You have full perimission Ramara lol!! To be a Rafan and root against Roger makes perfect sense. I’m mixed on Rafa’s matches usually. If he plays a young gun I usually root for the young gun. If he plays just a solid player or a really good player that I’m just kind of neutral on such as a Berdych, Murray, Nole etc. I will root for Rafa. For example, I rooted for Rafa to win all his Wimbledon matches until he played Gilles but Gilles is one of my favs so that’s different I guess. On the other hand when Rafa loses early to someone I don’t really care about I feel pretty bad for him but because I’m not a fan I don’t really think about that loss for much longer which is understandable I would say as I’m not a Rafan.

            • Also same. I woulda signed up in a heartbeat. To see Rafa and Roger at the top of the game again is amazing.

    • I agree with you, VR. It may be disappointing for his fans to see him not winning certain matches that go the distance, but he has indeed come through a lot of hard-fought, long-distance matches this season. I also agree with you that in terms of mental hurdles, breaking his losing streak to Novak was absolutely massive. I think that win really gave him a good boost of confidence going forward in the clay season and beyond. So while his Montreal loss is surely disappointing, it doesn’t mean that all hope is lost for US Open. The fact that he is even in a position to get back to #1 is a testament to how far he has come in turning things around. Considering that after AO 2016 a lot of his fans seemed to be starting to question whether he would ever return to glory again, he has proven once and for all that if he has a couple of sub-par results, he is absolutely capable of turning things around. Between the two of them, Rafa and Fed have both had their respective moments between 2012 and 2017 where people started to write them off, and they both have proven now that they should not be written off… Obviously there will come a time where their bodies just aren’t able to consistently keep up with the field anymore, but If we’re lucky that time will not come for a while. So I’m just trying to enjoy their presence on tour while we still have them around. As for Rafa on HC, this year he was just two service holds away from winning his 4th HC major title on arguably the fastest hard court there has ever been at a major, and that was before he absolutely destroyed the field at RG. He hasn’t had any good HC results for a while before that 2017 AO, so I personally won’t read much into his pre-US Open results… Just me, though.

      • thanks for your thought, Kevin. I think he is going to try very hard in Cincy now but it is not the tournament to put your hopes on for us Rafa fans. Hoping for a great USO.

      • Benny, do you happen to know what the scenarios are for how Fed and Rafa can get to #1 in Cinci? I can’t seem to find anything on the web yet that gives the scenarios, assumingly because Montreal is not done yet and Fed is still in it. I’m just curious to know what the paths to #1 will be for Fed/Rafa, for both if Fed is runner-up in Montreal and if he wins Montreal. Someone out there must have the calculations… I could do them myself, but I’m feeling lazy. 😛

        • If Federer wins Montreal, then with Andy out, whoever advances further at Cinci between Rafa and Fed will be the new #1. (Andy loses 600 points from his final appearance last year).

          If Federer loses the Montreal final, then heading into Cinci he will be in 3rd, 5 points behind Murray and 410 points behind Rafa. In that case, Rafa can secure #1 by making the Cinci final; Roger can secure #1 by winning the final over any other player. Regardless, Murray will be 3rd going into USO (if he plays), because Roger will receive an automatic 45 points at Cinci (even if he loses his first match), overtaking Andy for 2nd.

          • Sorry, and if Roger wins Montreal he is still 10 points behind Rafa, so if they both lose in the same round at Cinci, Rafa will be #1 at USO.

          • So I decided to stop being lazy and do the calculations myself. Joe- you forgot one small but important factor in your calculations… You forgot to subtract 90 points from Rafa’s total for making it to the 3rd round at Cinci last year. Therefore, if Federer loses the final in Montreal tomorrow, then Rafa will not be a lock for #1 simply by making the final. If Rafa makes the Cinci final, the Federer will still be #1 if he were to beat Rafa in the final.

            Also if Federer loses Montreal final, he must then win the title to become #1 UNLESS Rafa only makes the Quarterfinals, which in that case Federer only needs to make the Final to get #1.

            If Federer WINS Montreal, and you take away Rafa’s 90 points from Cinci last year, then Federer would actually be 80 points ahead of Rafa. Therefore, they lose in the same round at Cinci, then Federer will be #1. Therefore, in order for Rafa to get to #1 (if Fed wins Montreal), Rafa must go at least one round further than Fed to be #1 UNLESS Federer loses in the 2nd Round (1st Round Bye), which then Rafa would have to make the Quarterfinals.

            Whether Federer wins Montreal or not, if Fedal face-off in the Cincinnati final, then the winner takes World #1!! Personally, I hope for that outcome! 🙂

            I hope that clears things up, Joe. Thanks for the initial calculations.

            • Thanks, Kevin, for clearing up my oversight! It does really look as though Roger is in the driver’s seat for #1 at this point. And yes, it would be great to see it decided in the Cinci final.

Comments are closed.

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