Connect with us

ATP Tour

Shapo, Zverev, and the weakening of the wall

Matt Zemek

Published

on

Robert Deutsch - USA TODAY Sports

When human beings try to make sense of sports competition, results emerge which test their views and preconceptions. One of the challenges of making predictions about sports is found in the process of evaluating the significance of a result.

Does this match REALLY matter in the grander scheme of things, or is it a throwaway result? Is this an indicator of larger forces at work, or is it a relatively random occurrence with minimal meaning for both players?

I give you Denis Shapovalov beating — nay, THRASHING — Alexander Zverev, 2 and 2, in Brisbane at the ATP Cup.

Is this a sign that Shapovalov, who did well at the Pique Cup in Madrid last November, is picking up where he left off, and is ready to make noticeable (sustained) improvements this season?

Is this a sign that whatever magic or momentum Zverev had after reaching the ATP Finals semifinal round has evaporated?

Is this all an illusion, with no real connection to what we are about to see in Melbourne?

My answer: I don’t know… but it sure does tease the mind, does it not?

It is so easy to fall in love with Shapovalov’s eye-pleasing shots (when they land in). It is natural to hope that Shapovalov’s big game, married to a little more consistency and common sense, plus more forays to the net, will become a supreme force on the ATP Tour in the 2020s, a decade which could become a golden age for Canadian tennis.

It is also very easy to think that a bad match against an offense-based player is a bad sign for Zverev. We saw a passive Zverev sink into bad habits last year before breaking free of those habits in Shanghai, part of his post-Laver Cup revival.

Yet, as well as Shapo has been playing and as familiar as this loss seems for Zverev, is all of this enough to override what we know: namely, that Zverev owns a pile of Masters titles and has considerably more upside as a player?

As I said at the start of this piece, it is tricky to predict sports precisely because it is often hard to decide what to conclude from a given event which tests our preconceptions and leanings.

Does a match possess enough power and resonance to change the way we view two players, or are we going to remain convinced that the loser will bounce back and that the winner won’t keep the music playing?

Shapo d. Zverev is a fascinating case study, early in this 2020 tennis season. Oui gonna see how this match does — or doesn’t — shape the short-term futures of these competitors.

Will the wall of your mind remain strong, or has this outcome weakened your intellectual framework? Changing thoughts and perceptions can be good, but only if there is enough information to warrant such a shift. Does this match contain enough of that information?

Great question.

Follow @saqiba’s Tennis With An Accent Podcast. Listen to Saqib Ali’s show at our five main outlets:

RedCircle is here.

Stitcher is here. 

Google Podcasts is here.

Radio Public is here.

Apple Podcasts is here — subscribe, rate and review.

It takes just five minutes and helps our placement on search pages, which gives us a better chance of being noticed by advertisers who might sponsor our podcast and help us remain in business on a long-term basis.

We will be here covering tennis in 2020, but our long-term future depends on a long-term sponsorship which will provide a long-term revenue source. 

If you want to support Tennis With An Accent in the short term, in appreciation for the year-round writing and podcasting produced by this site, go here.

Catch our longreads TENNIS ACCENT PREMIUM series, with examples here and here. 

Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at radioinfluence.com. Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: mzemek@hotmail.com. You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

Advertisement Big Savings for Big Fans at Fanatics.com

Trending