Roland Garros 2023 presents a fascinating, first-ever matchup between world number one Carlos Alcaraz vs Denis Shapovalov. These stylish players are set to meet in the 3rd round, and the contest has some interesting features, as detailed below.
Watch for this: How much will Alcaraz use his big kick serve to reach the Shapovalov backhand, and will it be effective against the lefty? Or will a slider out wide in the deuce court cast a better spell?
Alcaraz vs Shapovalov: Differences
For the 20-year-old Alcaraz, Shapovalov represents a unique new challenge. He’s an athletic left-handed playmaker with a potent slice serve. He’s got an all-or-nothing one-handed jump backhand. In the words of Eminem, it’s complicating.
That said, Carlitos holds a stellar 27-8 career record against lefties. Two of those losses came very early in his ATP career, and another two were at the hands of Rafael Nadal. No shame there.
As a righty who likes to run patterns using his serve +1 forehand and return +1 forehand, the Alcaraz tried-and-true template will need to be reversed. Not such a big deal for the world’s elite, but it might produce mild discomfort.
In his first two rounds, Shapo has shown no overt signs of a knee problem which prevented him from playing in Monte Carlo and Rome this clay season. However, the Canadian has had to grind out 9 sets of tennis, while Alcaraz has tallied only 7. Carlitos has seemed to suffer no ill effects from his surprise upset in Rome.
On clay Shapovalov has struggled with low first serve percentages. On this surface, for his career, he’s only put 59% in the box. That’s not enough against the best in the world. Roland Garros 2023 has been warm, dry and breezy. If the wind makes tossing an issue, double faults could be a problem for Shapo.
Conversely, Alcaraz has proclaimed he enjoys playing in the wind.
Alcaraz vs Shapovalov: Similarities
Alcaraz and Shapovalov are both young, athletic and excellent movers.
Both players can hit heavy topspin on each wing, and they are also capable of flattening out groundstrokes.
Furthermore, both guys have an excellent mark of around 54% of second serve points won on clay. Those second serve points will be the battlefield in this match.
Bottom line: Shapovalov beat Nadal on clay last year in Rome. It’s not unheard of for the D-train to pull into the station with some superb and flashy tennis.
But he’s never seen Carlos Alcaraz in competition. It’s other-worldly.