Shapovalov, the left-handed 10th seed from Canada with a glorious one-handed backhand, will enter Friday night’s match as the favourite to advance to the last-16, despite Murray’s pedigree at his home Slam.
While Murray was making hard work of German qualifier Oscar Otte, Shapovalov was sitting with his feet up after being handed a walkover in the second round.
It’s only the first time Shapovalov, 22, has reached the third round of Wimbledon – and he only needed to win one match to get there – but he will be expected to take Murray out, in spite of the Brit’s home advantage.
This is, after all, the first time Murray has been to the third round of a major since he hobbled out of the All England Club four years ago. For a man who has struggled to put together a string of matches since returning to the sport from a hip resurfacing operation, this is another big physical test.
To say Murray is playing great tennis despite his physical limits would be untrue. There were, of course, moments against Otte but he looked nothing close to a former world No. 1 for large portions of his five-set win on Centre Court.
‘I mean, he hasn’t played, right? He’s been hurt for a lot,’ said Shapovalov when dissecting Murray’s game now compared to when he was world No. 1. ‘So he hasn’t been able to play most weeks or if he has played, you know, he’s been able to play a good match or two, but it’s been the recovery, which has been difficult.
‘But honestly, watching the last couple of sets yesterday, it looked like the old Andy out there. You know, it looked, as a tennis fan, it looked really fun and exciting to watch.
‘It brought a lot of memories back to me, you know, when he was dominant and playing so well. Even the commentators were saying that’s the old Andy right there, and for sure it was.
‘I think it’s just that. It’s been a physical struggle, so to say, you know, more than anything else. Obviously his game is always there, and it’s always going to be there.
‘Maybe a little bit of confidence here and there, but it’s been more physical. To see him moving the way he’s moving now, especially on the slick grass, it’s great to see. Obviously not as an opponent but as a fan of the sport, it’s really awesome to see.’
Shapovalov does boast a win over Rafael Nadal in his young career but has largely been on the losing end of results with the ‘Big Three’ but he is confident he won’t show Murray too much respect.
‘Well, I’ve been playing these top guys, you know, a couple times now, so for me it’s not a problem to turn the switch off anymore,’ said Shapovalov. ‘Obviously the first couple times you go up against them, it’s definitely a different match.
‘Now it’s pretty much, you know, the same thing for me. It’s just I’m going up against another opponent. I know he’s a great player, and he’s very difficult, but I’m focusing on my game and what I can do. So for me it’s not too difficult anymore to switch that.
‘But for sure it’s, you know, I think it’s normal to have appreciation for what these guys have done in the sport and always show respect. I don’t think there is anything ever wrong with that. So I try to do that whenever, you know, whenever I get the chance.’
There’s no question, in Shapovalov’s mind, that he’s ready to go the distance with Murray – a serial battler – if required and he is relishing the chance to test himself on the hallowed grass.
‘He’s definitely well-known for that, but, yeah, for sure I’m ready, and I’m hoping to have a long match and, you know, and a long battle,’ said Shapovalov.
‘I mean, that’s what I love play for. I’m definitely ready. Physically I feel great. Obviously the two days’ rest helped a lot, so for sure I feel ready to go.’
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