Damien Kayat previews Cameron Norrie vs Lorenzo Musetti and Carlos Alcaraz vs Denis in selected Round 3 matches of the French Open, on the 2nd of June 2023.
2023 ATP Tour
Grand Slam Tennis
Stade Roland Garros, Paris, France (Outdoor Clay)
Selected Round 3 Matches – 2nd June
Cameron Norrie 13/10 | Lorenzo Musetti 58/100
Brit Cameron Norrie is through to the 3rd round of the French Open for the 3rd successive season, comfortably seeing off the fairytale run of home favourite Lucas Pouille.
It was a dominant display not without its controversy, with both players calling for the advent of video technology after a prolonged 3rd set altercation. The comfy victory stood in stark contrast to Norrie’s five-set comeback win against Paire in the opening round.
Over the past three years, Norrie has proven himself to be one of the most nuggety clay-court players in world tennis. He has reached five clay-court finals, winning the biggest clay-court title of his career in Rio this year. He doesn’t necessarily have the power to blast players off the court.
But he generates plenty of topspin on that lefty forehand and he possesses a near-psychotic work-rate (he’s almost a Diet-Coke version of Rafa Nadal).
A former World No.1 junior, Lorenzo Musetti just looks like your stereotypical clay-court specialist. He almost looks like an amalgamation of Kuerten and Coria.
He possesses one for the sweetest single-handed backhands this side of Gasquet and his serve has turned into a proper weapon over the past few years. He came to the fore after beating Carlos Alcaraz in last year’s ATP 500 final in Hamburg.
He started this year dreadfully, taking a 1-6 record into the Grand Prix Hassan II. But the Italian really found his feet during the European clay-court swing. He picked up the biggest scalp of his career in Monte-Carlo, coming back from a set down to beat Novak Djokovic.
I really think he has gained a lot of confidence from knowing he can mix it with the very best. He reached the semi-finals in Barcelona and also picked up a creditable round of 16 run in Rome.
He has looked one of the most assured players in the men’s draw thus far, pummelling both Ymer and Shevchenko in straight-sets.
Verdict: Norrie to win in four at 5/1
They met for the first time this year, with the Italian outlasting Norrie in a three-set clash in Barcelona. This could boil down to a battle between Norrie’s lefty forehand and Musetti’s crisp single-handed backhand.
I think Musetti might struggle to flatten out his backhand given Norrie’s heavy topspin. I also think that Norrie’s athleticism could neutralize Musetti’s beloved drop-shot.
Carlos Alcaraz 1/33 | Denis Shapovalov 11/1
The Carlos Alcaraz machine marches on. His 2nd round victory over Taro Daniel took his 2023 record to a staggering 32-3. It also took his phenomenal career clay-court record to a jaw-dropping 61-13. But the performance wasn’t without its hiccups.
He breezed through the first set before dropping his level considerably in the 2nd. Daniel pounced and leveled the match at one set apiece. Alcaraz would go on to be broken again but ultimately had far too much firepower for his opponent, hitting a ridiculous 46 winners in the match.
It is going to take a herculean effort to derail Alcaraz as the Spaniard seeks to improve on last year’s quarterfinal showing. That 2nd set lapse may offer a semblance of hope other mere mortals. But Alcaraz just has the ability to take it up to another level when he needs to.
Next up for the exceptional Alcaraz is the mercurial Denis Shapovalov.
The tennis world knows just how dangerous Shapovalov can be on his day. The 2021 Wimbledon semi-finalist has a solid Masters 1000 record that testifies to his undoubted ability.
His biggest issue has always been consistency. A player with his firepower should never have just one ATP title to their name (the 2019 Stockholm Open). The Canadian has the ability to blow the best players off the court. But what he lacks is the patience to win ugly.
And that’s precisely why he has battled on clay. Clay requires players to dig deep when they don’t have any rhythm. Still, Shapovalov’s four-set, 2nd round win over Arnaldi was the first time he has won successive matches since the Aussie Open.
Shapovalov is a dangerous opponent in optimum conditions. But a 9-9 record this year lets you know exactly where his game is at.
Verdict: Alcaraz to win in straight sets at 34/100
This will be the first time these players will have met. This could give awkward lefty Shapovalov a bit of a fighter’s chance. But I ultimately think this match is almost the perfect assignment for Alcaraz.
He can offset the rhythm of Shapovalov with the sheer variety of his shot-making. He can go toe-to-toe with the Canadian through sheer power. But he also has the tennis IQ to exploit the Canadian’s penchant for unforced errors. Expect to see plenty of sliced-backhands and off-speed forehands amongst all the brutality.
I also expect Alcaraz to throw in plenty of his characteristic drop-shots, forcing Shapovalov to lumber in from the baseline. This should be a dawdle.