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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday May 4, 2021


Denis Shapovalov and a cold beer. Not a rap lyric but the hard truth after the Canadian's latest loss in Madrid.

Photo Source: AP

Sometimes a cold beer is the perfect remedy for what ails you. Canada’s Denis Shapovalov is hoping a frosty ale comes to his rescue after his latest loss on clay, at the Madrid Open on Tuesday.

"Right now, I don't know. I need a beer right now,” Shapovalov told reporters after he was asked what he tells himself after difficult losses, when he wants to change a losing pattern. “I just need to just get over this right now.”

Tennis Express

Clay court tennis can remain a mystery to players that are better suited to thrive on faster surfaces, but strangely Shapovalov was one of those players that experienced success on the clay early in his career. In 2018 he reached his first Masters 1000 semifinal on clay, and last year he backed that result up by reaching the last four at Rome.

How was he able to put up those impressive results? If he ever knew the answer, apparently he has temporarily forgotten it.

Shapovalov's clay results are notable because the 22-year-old is a high-risk player who is far better off on hard courts; his ability to win on the clay therefore showed that the Canadian could dial down his aggression and ratchet up his success to have success. It was a good sign that pointed to a bright future on the surface.

But this year Shapovalov has found himself searching for answers on the surface, possibly due to the fact that he’s thinking too much. He can't get out of his own way long enough to let his superior athleticism take over.

“I mean my game is there but when I'm going out to the match it's not coming out and it's a mental issue more than anything else, because I'm practicing very good and at a very high level, and I'm just not able to bring that level out in the matches,” Shapovalov said after a recent loss to Corentin Moutet in Estoril.

Shapovalov has played well at times, but he's encountered the most trouble when he is trying to back up an impressive win. One day he’s brilliant, the next day he falls flat on his face. He played superbly in a win over Jeremy Chardy in Barcelona, but was awful against Felix Auger-Aliassime in his next match.

He took a wild card into Estoril hoping for more match play to help get his confidence back, but his loss to the Frenchman was a tale of two Shapovalovs. Patches of brilliance with a lot of tentative decision making and swing volley errors.

"I'm always trying to be aggressive but I don't think I was aggressive enough and I was just like doubting myself a lot on those shots and that's why I'm missing, I'm like half-committing to coming, half-committing to staying back so I'm a little bit confused out there and that's why there were so many mistakes,” he said.

In Madrid Shapovalov topped Dusan Lajovic, 6-1, 6-3, in a very impressive clay-court result against a player with a stellar pedigree on the surface that includes a Monte-Carlo final in 2019.

But he was Mr. Inconsistency again today against Alexander Bublik, falling 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

“I started really well,” Shapovalov said after the loss, which dropped his lifetime record on clay to 19-17. “I started on the same level as the other day. It's more mental. … Like throwing in five doubles in one game, I mean, it's not like I don't know how to serve. It's completely mental and just the mistakes, missing overheads, like the whole court.

“It's more mental than anything else. I'm doing everything to win these points and I'm playing well. Of course after that, your level definitely drops when you start missing like this, for sure. It's normal. Yeah, I think in general my level is good. It's more of like a mental thing, to be honest.”

Perhaps in Shapovalov’s case a cold beer might just be what the doctor ordered. We hear they are not hard to find in Rome…


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