STARNBERG, August 20, 2021 (by Alex Jack)
Denis Shapovalov progressed to the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career at Wimbledon. The Canadian was outstanding in his run to the last four at the All England Club and was only beaten by the eventual champion Novak Djokovic in a tense duel. The Serb had the nous and the experience to beat out the 22-year-old in straight sets, winning all the crucial points on offer, although Shapovalov did have his moments on Centre Court.
Shapovalov now must set his sights on finding consistency in his play that has evaded members of the next generation of talent that is flowing through the men’s game. The absence of Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon and Roger Federer’s quarter-final defeat granted a passage for a portion of the elite talent at the top of the ATP Tour to challenge Djokovic. The Serb crushed their advances, but with Federer beginning to look as though age has caught up with him and Nadal’s injury problems, there will be further opportunities. Dominic Thiem took his chance last year at the US Open to win his first major, and there could be another passage for a rising starlet to seize one of the majors on offer.
Shapovalov is one of the top 10 contenders to win the US Open at Flushing Meadows in 2021 in the sports betting odds at +3300 to take the crown. It speaks volumes to how much he impressed at the All England Club, although he still has a lot to prove. Djokovic remains supreme at the top and he will be determined to bounce back after his disappointment at the Olympics. The Serb is chasing the calendar slam to win all four Grand Slams in 2021, and he will be difficult to stop as he attempts to break the tie with Federer and Nadal to triumph for the 21st time.
Stefanos Tsitsipas had a Wimbledon to forget after being dumped out in the first round by Frances Tiafoe, while Daniil Medvedev did not fare much better as he was beaten in the fourth round by Hubert Hurkacz. Alexander Zverev achieved a breakthrough in his career by winning the gold medal in the 2021 Olympics, and he will be hoping that he can use that triumph as a springboard to greater success on the ATP Tour. Matteo Berrettini proved his quality at Wimbledon in his surge to the final and taking the first set from Djokovic before being overwhelmed by the brilliance of the Serb.
There is quite a gauntlet ahead of Shapovalov in his bid to compete at Flushing Meadows into the second week of the competition, never mind winning his first Grand Slam. He has all the attributes at his disposal to become a champion, but so do a lot of other candidates. The Canadian beat Andy Murray and Roberto Bautista Agut and flashed his talent against Djokovic in the last four. The US Open will not be a good barometer to judge whether that was a flash in the pan or whether the 22-year-old is ready to take the step up and join the company of players that are seeking to end the reign of the big three at the top of the men’s game.