While much of the sports world focused on 43-year-old Tom Brady winning his seventh Super Bowl on Sunday, a few hours later two kids played the best match of the day at Day 1 of the Australian Open. 21-year-old Denis Shapovalov outlasted 19-year-old Jannik Sinner 3-6 6-3 6-2 4-6 6-4 to advance to the second round of the year’s first Grand Slam event.
The two kids–yes, kids; combined, they are still three years younger than Brady–gave the fans a great first day match as the tennis world tries to switch its attention from COVID to competition. In one of the most anticipated of the first round matchups, the Canadian snapped Sinner’s 10-match winning streak after nearly four hours of play.
Denis Shapovalov vs Jannik Sinner
Neither player fits the standard definition of young power player who overwhelms opponents with a blizzard of aces. Shapovalov fired a respectable 12 aces in 157 service points. Sinner is no teenage bomber either. He notched only four aces, but made Shapovolov earn everything by making only 44 unforced errors in a match which totaled more than 300 points played. Shapovalov showed a willingness to go for more as he ripped off 62 winners to Sinner’s 26. At the same time, the 21-year-old flirted with trouble and made 71 unforced errors.
While neither man possesses a highly dominant serve, that does not mean they are easy to break. Despite a lack of aces, there were only eight breaks of serve in 46 games played. Shapovalov repeatedly escaped when pushed, as Sinner only converted on three of 20 break points. Sinner offered even fewer break points, but the Canadian took more advantage and grabbed five breaks on only ten break point chances.
First, Not the Last
These players faced each other for only the first time on Monday. Oddly, for a 21-year-old, Shapovolov looked the part of a veteran as he graciously congratulated his younger competitor at the net.
So the 11th seeded 21-year-old outlasted the 19-year-old kid. It was not child’s play. These kids are more than alright – they are young stars.
Main Photo from Getty.