The Canadian earned his first win in six months by cruising past France's Hugo Gaston 6-1, 6-3 in the opening round of the ATP 250 event in Montpellier. He played a fantastic match, demonstrating all of his devastating tennis skills by smashing his opponent.
Shapovalov was brilliant on serve, dropping only a handful of points, but also pretty strong on return, taking advantage of any short ball. That will also be the blueprint against Alexander Bublik, though the Kazakhstani player can do the same.
Bublik is super aggressive on return and is a good server, so this might be a really close and complicated match for both players.
Bublik and Shapovalov have played two times so far, and Bublik has won both times. The matches were close and finished in three sets, but neither was recent, as the most recent meeting happened in 2021.
If we assume that both play their best, then this is going to be another close battle. Neither was brilliant so far, but both are pretty devastating indoor players, and the courts play into that, so expect a tiebreak.
Bublik has some history here, having won this event in 2022. That run was amazing, but you never know with him, so you can't read too much into that. Last year, he lost in the first round, and it was the infamous match when he smashed a few racquets.
Shapovalov may win this one because he is the more stable player when he's fully healthy, and he seemed fully healthy in the first round in Montpellier. Obviously, with Bublik on the opposite side of the net, anything can happen.
Prediction: Denis Shapovalov to win in three sets.