ATP World Tour: Canadian Open Men's Semifinals Preview

Semifinals Preview

Our tennis writer previews the ATP 1000 semifinals which take place in Canada on Saturday 12 August 2017 evening. 

This has been a tournament of two major storylines which have dovetailed rather brilliantly.  Yes, yes, Roger Federer has progressed to yet another semi-final and could potentially set up a World Number 1 bid at Cincinnati next week.  But it’s the emergence of hometown hero Denis Shapovalov and the demise of Rafael Nadal that has really captured the imagination.  Rafa called his defeat to Shapovalov in the third round his worst of the year, nullifying his chance of becoming the World Number 1 again.  And Shapovalov has gone from strength to strength, with a rousing victory over Mannarino in the Quarter-Finals making him the youngest ever ATP Masters 1000 semi-finalist.

The semi-finals could not be more diametrically opposed.  In the battle between Haase and Federer you have experienced campaigners making for a possibly calculated affair.  And in the Shapovalov-Zverev clash you see the vanguard of what is proving to be an exciting brand of next-generation players.

ATP World Tour: Canadian Open | 12 August | Montreal, Canada
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Denis Shapolavov vs Alex Zverev (4) - Markets- Shapovalov to win at 4/1, Zverev to win at 1/6
This one sees two poster children of the next generation of players meet in what is likely to be a raucous atmosphere in Montreal.  Shapovalov, my pick to surprise this week if I may take some credit, has ridden the wave of positivity generated in front of a home crowd whilst playing bombshell tennis this week.  His forehand winners have the ability to devastate and confound in equal measure.  His ‘hell for leather’ approach has worked well thus far, with the dismantling of Rafa Nadal perhaps the biggest upset in men’s tennis this year.
His quarter-final victory over Mannarino once again showed his appetite for the big stage.  But he comes up against a player slowly starting to stamp a level of authority in his game.  Alex Zverev has followed up his serene victory in Washington with another storming display on the American hardcourts.  He is aiming for his 5th title of the year, and his second Masters 1000 title following that tremendous victory over Djokovic in Rome.  He has the complete game in this three-set format, with a versatile serve and heavy ground strokes.  He also seems to have unnerving temperament for a man his age.

I think that Shapovalov has been slightly indulged in his last two matches.  Both Rafa and Mannarino played percentage tennis, hoping that the mercurial Canadian would eventually succumb in his quest to hit every other ball as hard as possible.  This was particularly evident in that Mannarino match, where the Italian was essentially just hitting it back to him and waiting to see what he did.  Zverev won’t do that.  He has the ability- evident on the clay courts- to exchange monotonous rallies.  But he also possesses enough power on both flanks to dismantle the Canadian.  He won’t be flustered by the atmosphere either, with a Borg-esque demeanour that speaks volumes of his maturity.

My Call: Zverev to win at 1/6.  I know it seems like such great value to back the Canadian at 4/1, but I really think that Zverev has ice in his veins and will readily dismantle the error strewn Shapovalov.  Additionally, Zverev is a right hander who will disrupt the left handed flow that Shapovalov had in Nadal and Mannarino.

Robin Haase vs Roger Federer (2) - Markets- Haase to win at 9/1, Federer to win at 1/20
This is promising to be a veritable David and Goliath match.  Journeyman Dutch player Haase has enjoyed a fabulous run to his first Masters Series semi-final appearance.  And he is going up against arguably the greatest player the game has ever seen.  Roger Federer has avoided the shock upset that befell arch-rival Rafa- and should he win this tournament he gives himself an unbelievable chance of taking back the World Number 1 spot next week.  He hasn’t been in vintage form this week, starting slowly against Ferrer- where he lost the first set, and Bautista-Agut, where he broke late in the opening set after a shaky start.

The pair have only met once before, with the Swiss picking up a routine straight sets victory in their Davies Cup Tie in 2012.  Haase does have some big stage experience.  The two time title winner has reached the Australian Open double’s final with Igor Sijsling, his proficiency in doubles has no doubt helped him this week.  The courts have favoured those willing to calculate and risk the occasional voyage to the nets.  This is clearly going to be a monumental challenge for Haase.

My Call: Haase to win the first set at 9/2.  
There really is absolutely no value in backing Federer at that price, whilst I can’t see Haase winning this match.  But Federer has shown some signs of listlessness in the early stages of matches.  He is clearly trying to conserve himself with Cincinnati and Flushing Meadows representing his most congested period of the year.  Haase could just sneak that opening set.

Written by Damien Kayat for

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