On Friday, world No. 29 Reilly Opelka takes on world No. 14 Denis Shapovalov for a spot in the Australian Open's fourth round. This will be the second meeting between these talented youngsters, with Shapovalov beating Opelka, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (6), in the qualifying rounds of the Queen’s Club Championships—way back in 2017. This, however, is a much-improved version of Opelka, and Shapovalov might not be ready for what’s coming.

While Opelka arguably sports the biggest serve on the planet, the 24-year-old is actually a better mover than some of the giant servebots who have come before him. His ability to get enough returns back makes him one of the toughest outs on tour. The American hasn’t yet dropped a set in this tournament, despite facing two solid players in Kevin Anderson and Dominik Koepfer, and he has managed to avoid tiebreakers in four of the six sets he’s played thus far. That’s rather significant when looking at this upcoming match against Shapovalov.

The Canadian comes into this match after having needed four sets to beat Laslo Djere in the first round of this event, and he followed that performance up by going the distance in a 7-6 (6), 6-7 (3), 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-2 win over Soonwoo Kwon. Shapovalov has done well to survive and advance thus far, but up-and-down play won't get it done against Opelka, who usually takes advantage of even a single slip-up.

Shapovalov has all of the talent in the world but he gets in his own way far too often. Whether he piles up double faults or unforced errors, Shapovalov is known for losing focus and dropping his level in random moments. Those struggles never last too long, but those need to be practically nonexistent against a player like Opelka.

Overall, you shouldn’t expect Opelka to give up anything when it’s his turn to serve, but he’ll be hunting opportunities to pounce on his opponent in the return game. That will put a tremendous amount of pressure on Shapovalov, who will feel significant pressure when down 0-30 or 15-30 in a service game. That’s an extremely difficult way to play this game, especially on a stage like this.

It’s also important to factor in that Shapovalov has to be at least a little fatigued after playing two highly competitive matches in Melbourne. He’s a young player and probably isn’t too beat up right now, but any imperfection will make this match a tougher task. The American should be fresh as can be when he takes the court, and this value is just too good to pass up. And it doesn’t hurt that Opelka is very comfortable playing tiebreakers, should Shapovalov find a way to force any.

The Pick: Reilly Opelka to win (-105)