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Strengths & Weaknesses of Canadian Rising Star Denis Shapovalov

After winning Delpotro & Nadal and reaching the semi-final in the last Canadian Open, Denis Shapovalov broke through the ATP top 100 and became the new rising star.

Although the Canadian is brand new at that level, Tennisprofiler wanted to know as soon as possible his strengths & weaknesses in terms of shots effectiveness & game plans. In order to proceed, Tennisprofiler quickly gathered 798 points from Shapovalov this year to make that study.


When compared with the direct rivals, Shapovalov took the biggest edge with the quality of his forehand. In that study, he made on average 70% more points but also 20% more unforced errors than the rivals with that shot. For example, if the opponents makes 10 points & 10 errors with the forehand in a match, Shapovalov will make 17 points for 12 mistakes.

This kind of results makes me think of Roger Federer. Like the Swiss, Shapovalov is a dominant player from the back of the court and he is the one making the points & errors with the forehand.

The shorter the rallies were, the more effective Shapovalov was with the forehand. This is on his first forehand attack after the serve or the return that he got results far above the average of the ATP players. His best combo was by far the forehand down the line attack on his first shot after the serve. Then, in the medium rallies (between 5 to 8 shots), he still made more points than the rivals (especially on his service games) but the errors were creeping up. In the rallies over 8 shots, Shapovalov made more errors than points and he tied up with the direct rivals.

Shapovalov were also slightly more effective with the forehand down the line & inside out (above average) than the forehand inside in & cross (in the average). Technically, this usually happens to players who are excellent at stretching the arm in front when hitting the forehand. Shapovalov’s follow through is also a factor that can explain a better effectiveness with the down the line & inside out forehand trajectory.

We can sum up Shapovalov’s game plan like this. The Canadian is an aggressive forehand Puncher who likes to follow this shot to the net, especially on his first or second shot after the serve. This game plan gives Shapovalov excellent results in the short rallies (between 3 & 4 shots) and with the down the line & inside out forehand (which are the one he used the most to come in).


After the forehand, Shapovalov’s second strengths is the serve. However, in that study he took just a small edge against the direct rivals with the serve effectiveness.

The first serve percentage was in the average of the ATP players (59%) but the first serve effectiveness (chances to make an ace or a service winner; 38%) and the first serve won points (76%) were above average.

But another strengths with Shapovalov’s serve is the second serve. Varying well every direction (wide, body & T) on both sides and taking risks with a high ratio of second serve winner & double fault, he managed to win 58% of his second serve points (far above average). It has to be said that this risky second serve game plan also forced the rivals to miss 40% more return than average.