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Match of the Day: Denis Shapovalov vs. Vasek Pospisil, Auckland

Match of the Day: Denis Shapovalov vs. Vasek Pospisil, Auckland

Davis Cup teammates just two months ago, the pair of Canadians will face off for the first time on the ATP tour Wednesday in the ASB Classic second round.

Currently sitting at No. 146 in the world, Vasek Pospisil is poised to skyrocket up the ATP rankings in 2020. Ranked No. 25 in 2014, Pospisil struggled mightily with a back injury the better part of the last three years. He tried to play through it, avoiding surgery, but to no avail.

No one, including Roger Federer, can play their best tennis with a bad back. Pospisil finally opted to go under the knife in January 2019, a decision that has paid dividends after his patience was tested. Finally healthy and fit, Pospisil ended the 2019 season with two ATP Challenger titles, to go along with wins over Diego Schwartzman, Karen Khachanov, Reilly Opelka, and Fabio Fognini.  

Like his compatriot, Denis Shapovalov also ended 2019 on a high note, breaking through for his first ATP singles title in Stockholm and later advancing to his first ATP Masters 1000 final in Paris, where he was stopped by Novak Djokovic. The 20-year old currently sits at a career high No. 13 in the world after an encouraging start to the year.

At the ATP Cup, Shapovalov scored victories over Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev, while pushing Djokovic to the absolute brink, losing to the Serbian 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (4). The addition of Mikhail Youzhny to his camp has done wonders for Shapovalov's shot selection, which has been his Achilles' heel thus far in his career. 

While Shapovalov is still the favorite to win this match, Pospisil is capable of playing the exceptional kind of tennis that renders opponents helpless. They have squared off once before at the Guadalajara Challenger in 2017. Shapovalov won that match 6-3, 6-3 in just over an hour, though Pospisil was far from full strength. This match could go either way, but look for Pospisil to upset his good friend in his first statement win of 2020. 

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