NextGen ATP Finals preview and prediction: Rublev vs. Shapovalov

Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov will be battling for the second semifinal spot from Group A when they square off during round-robin action at the NextGen ATP Finals in Milan on Thursday night. With both players at 1-1 through two matches, Thursday’s showdown is a virtual quarterfinal contest.

Although ranking points are not available at this inaugural end-of-season event, it is still a high-stakes contest for the first-ever meeting between Rublev and Shapovalov. And for one of them, it will mark the end of a breakout 2017 campaign.

Rublev, 20, has soared to No. 37 in the world thanks to his first career ATP title in Umag as a lucky loser and a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open. The Russian understandably slumped thereafter, but he still finished the year with 18 of his 30 career ATP-level match victories under his belt. Rublev kicked off his week in Milan with a 1-4, 4-0, 4-3(3), 0-4, 4-3(3) defeat of Gianluigi Quinzi before falling to Group A winner Hyeon Chung 4-0, 4-1, 4-3(1).

Like Rublev, Shapovalov surged into prominence this summer. The 18-year-old Canadian enjoyed a miraculous trip to the Montreal Masters semifinals–upsetting Rafael Nadal in the process–and he advanced to the U.S. Open fourth round as a qualifier. Up to 51st in the rankings, Shapovalov opened in Milan by losing to Chung 1-4, 4-3(5), 4-3(4), 4-1 but he bounced back to beat Quinzi 4-1, 4-1, 3-4(5), 4-3(5).

Shapovalov went 1-4 in ATP tournament matches after leaving New York, so he has also slowed down considerably during the stretch run of a long season. Rublev’s forehand should be the biggest weapon on the court in this one and that will likely send his opponent into the offseason.

Pick: Rublev in 5

8 Comments on NextGen ATP Finals preview and prediction: Rublev vs. Shapovalov

  1. Shapo in 5.
    Rublev was way too erratic in his two games. I know the Canadian is not the most consistent player either.. I expect a game with lots of ups and downs for both sides.

  2. Shapo is not a consistent player, he just goes for broke. A player playing like that won’t have consistently good results, for him it’s either hits or misses. What he lacks is precision and he has to play with controlled aggression if he wants consistent good results. He may be exciting to watch just because of his go for broke tennis, not unlike Kyrgios but players like them are high in entertainment value but may not be high in value results wise.

    Shapo seems to come back down on earth after his Canada/ New York exploits. The NextGen Finals is a good experience for him, playing against fellow promising young players. I don’t find Shapo being the brightest of them all, though he’s the youngest among them and he has a good serve and FH/BH; there’s still plenty of room for improvement for him esp in learning to be patient and pulling the trigger at the right time.

  3. Fascinating watching the stars of the future strutting their stuff in Milan.
    Have seen very little of most of them until this week but it’s clear there is no shortage of talent waiting in the wings when it’s their turn to take over.

    Still trying to get to grips with the new rules and scoring system that is being tried out. Am in favour of some changes (e.g. the net cord ruling) but hope not all of them are adopted.

    • I enjoyed the matches a lot. These youngsters really go all out to win. I don’t mind some of the new rules but don’t like the shorter set format, the spectators are free to move around anytime, and the coaching during changeovers.

      I think the shot clock is ok when it’s the umpire who starts the clock after calling the score. I think that’s more reasonable. The players need not make any challenges anymore as the line calls are done by Hawkeye so no more disputes.

      I think these young players are playing good tennis and will have bright future; they do play different styles – the hard hitters Khachanov and Rublev; the counterpunchers Chung and Coric; the all out attacking going for broke Shapo; the offensive baseliners who could attack at the net Donaldson and Quinzi and my fave among them, the player who can play a unique style Daniil Medvedev.

  4. Pity Medvedev messed up in the SF – I had hoped it would be a battle between the two Russians. I agree with Lucky about courtside coaching: could do without listening to that, besides it has a somewhat faux ring to it and comes across as a plug for their coaching credentials :-))

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