Damien Kayat previews two matches from the ATP Tour’s Erste Bank Open. Stefanos Tsitsipas faces Borna Coric in the Ro16 and Denis Shapovalov goes up against Dan Evans in the quarters.
2022 ATP Tour
ATP 500 Series
Erste Bank Open (Vienna Open)
Wiener Stadthalle, Vienna, Austria (Indoor Hardcourt)
Thursday 27 October
Stefanos Tsitsipas 43/100 | Borna Coric 18/10
Greek superstar Stefanos Tsitsipas has quietly compiled a mind-boggling 57-20 record this season. He has gone slightly under the radar due to pretty disappointing showings in the Slams (he hasn’t gone beyond the fourth round in any of his last three Slams).
I think his demanding schedule may be the root cause of his disappointing Grand Slam efforts. But outside of the Slams he has been absolutely money, reaching seven finals this year (winning titles in Monte-Carlo and Mallorca).
And he has bounced back admirably from that shock first-round defeat to Galan, reaching back-to-back finals in Astana and Stockholm. In fact, he currently has an 8-2 record this month.
He may not have grabbed the headlines this year but Tsitsipas has undeniably improved his all-court game. The Greek star eased into his opening match against Denis Novak, taking a tough first-set tiebreak before a more polished second set performance.
Next up for Tsitsipas will be the man who vanquished him in the Cincinnati final: the resurgent Borna Coric.
25-year-old Borna Coric is a sparkling talent whose career had been utterly decimated by injury. He struggled with form in the early part of the season (clearly struggling to get back to pace following shoulder surgery).
But he absolutely exploded into action with a maiden Masters 1000 title victory in Cincinnati. He only dropped one set that entire week (against the incomparable Rafa Nadal).
The thing that impressed me in Cincinnati was his greater level of intensity. He seemed more aggressive than usual, not content with playing purely defensive tennis.
That career-defining victory helped catapult the Croatian back into the top 30 of the world rankings. He has been 4-2 since then (reaching the quarterfinals in Japan).
He had to dig deep in his opening victory against Quentin Halys. This was his first single’s appearance on indoor hardcourts (and it showed).
Verdict: Coric to win in three sets at 5/1
Coric leads Tsitsipas 2-1 in their head-to-head rivalry. And Coric obviously has the momentum following his magnificent straight-sets win in the Cincinnati final.
I think Coric could make it back-to-back wins here. All these matches could catch up to Tsitsipas. Coric will have the measure of the conditions now and will draw on that empathic win in Cincinnati.
He just has to stick to an aggressive game plan and hone in on Tsitsipas’ 2nd serve.
Friday 28 October
Denis Shapovalov 69/100 | Dan Evans 11/10
In recent weeks, 23-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov has seemed intent on making up for what had been a really underwhelming campaign.
The explosive lefty started the season well enough, helping Canada win the ATP Cup before reaching his maiden Aussie Open quarterfinal. But things just went drastically off the rails after that.
He was defeated in the first round of the French Open before a bitterly disappointing second-round exit at Wimbledon. A third-round run at the US Open seemed to indicate that there had been some progress.
And he has found some purchase in the last month, reaching his fifth ATP Tour final in Korea. He followed that up with a commendable semi-final run in Japan (where he lost in a marathon match to no.1 American Taylor Fritz).
He just avenged that Fritz defeat, overcoming the American in three sets to reach this stage. He served 10 aces and won a staggering 78% of all service points in that match.
It’s really been a big second half of the season for Brit Dan Evans. He compiled some excellent results in North America, reaching the quarterfinals of the Citi Open before a herculean run to the semi-final of the Canadian Open (where he beat the likes of Andrey Rublev and Taylor Fritz).
He also hustled his way to a San Diego semi-final in the immediate aftermath of the US Open. So, he has been finding some decent form in this latter part of the year.
The Brit lost to eventual champ Felix Auger Aliassime in last week’s European Open. Evans has been in scintillating form in Vienna, dispatching Otte and the impressive Khachanov in back-to-back straight-sets wins.
His rout of Khachanov actually took his head-to-head record against the Russian to 3-0. He will look to absorb Shapovalov’s power and manoeuvre the Canadian around the court.
Verdict: Evans to win in three at 37/10
Evans leads the rivalry 2-1. This included a victory at this year’s ATP Cup (where Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime would ultimately power Canada to victory).
As I alluded to earlier, Shapovalov will look to press the issue and shorten the exchanges. But the Canadian isn’t shy of committing huge amounts of errors. And the defensively sound Evans is the perfect man to capitalize on those errors.