The Pick: Denis Shapovalov v. Felix Auger-Aliassime, AO Third Round

The Pick: Denis Shapovalov v. Felix Auger-Aliassime, AO Third Round

Remarkably, Thursday's encounter will mark the Canadians' third meeting at a major.

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook and are subject to change

Remarkably, the fourth career meeting between 21-year-old Denis Shapovalov and 20-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime will be their third clash at a major.

The budding Canadian superstars met in the first round of the 2018 and 2019 US Opens, with the elder Shapovalov emerging victorious each time. Both Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime blitzed through their Australian hopeful second-round opponents in Bernard Tomic and James Duckworth, respectively, in three easy sets. This match certainly has the ingredients for a much longer contest, as not much separates these two incredible ball-strikers.

In this encounter, it will all begin with the serve. The ultra-fast conditions are rewarding big servers, and while Shapovalov is earning plenty of free points, he’s already double faulted 16 times in two matches. He’ll need to clean that up immediately, because Auger-Aliassime was untouchable on serve Tuesday night, striking 19 aces in 12 service games. 

One of Shapovalov’s biggest strength is his range on the return. If he’s able to get the return back quickly, the long-armed lefty should force Auger-Aliassime into first-ball errors:

If Shapovalov can stretch Auger-Aliassime wide to his forehand early in the point, it will open up his crosscourt forehand to his opponents' weaker backhand side. 

It seems the days of Shapovalov over-hitting are coming to an end, but he’ll need to hit with purpose, as gifting Auger-Aliassime a mid-court forehand is a recipe for disaster. 

According to DraftKings, the 21-year-old is a slight -160 favorite. In the past week, Shapovalov has faced three of the world’s best opponents in Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Jannik Sinner. This match could go either way, but in the end Shapovalov’s slight edge in experience should push him over the edge. 

The Pick: Denis Shapovalov