Brad Gilbert: Shapovalov & Aliassime Have More Time To Win a Slam Compared to Raonic



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Brad Gilbert: Shapovalov & Aliassime Have More Time To Win a Slam Compared to Raonic

Former World No. 4 Brad Gilbert says that Canadian youngsters Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime have a much better chance to win a Grand Slam as they have time on their side as compared to 29 year old Milos Raonic.

In an interview to TSN Canada, Gilbert says, "Denis and Felix have way more time on their side. At some point the Big Three are going to get older and so their competition is going to be (Stefanos) Tsitsipas, (Alexander) Zverev, Dominic Thiem, it’s younger guys that they're going to be competing with five years from now.

The window for Milos is much smaller, but he did play as well as I've ever seen him play in getting to the quarterfinals in Australia. I was really impressed with his (third round) match against (No. 6 seed) Tsitsipas. I've never seen him return a ground stroke as well as he did in that match.

Guys are playing a lot better into their thirties, but I like the younger guys chances. However, I don't want to make any predictions until we get back out on the tour. This is a strange time right now." Gilbert says he has been very impressed with Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime who are both ranked in the Top 20 in the world rankings.

"It's incredible that he's already been at this high level, in the top 50, for over three years. You almost think he's 25, you forget that today he's just 21 ... The one thing that Denis needs, more than anything with his game, is the block return, a little bit like the Fed return, to get more returns in play and be more consistent week in and week out.

(Felix) has had a couple of great periods and he's had a couple of periods where, all the sudden, he struggles for a little bit and that's natural for young players. At 19 your whole goal is to get better, to keep improving, keep working on your game, not worrying about anything else, but working on your game.

Sure, he can develop his serve and improve his forehand, but I think consistency is a huge thing for him. Like Denis, he has time on his side." Meanwhile, Gilbert says that Canada's top player Bianca Andreescu needs to work on her physical fitness since she seems to be quite injury prone over the past few years.

"Availability is your best asset and since she's been about 14-years-old, every year it feels like she's had these significant injuries. And it's not just one injury, it's the elbow, the shoulder, the knee.

I think, more than anything, that’s going to be the No. 1 issue to get figured out, 'How can I be healthy and play for long periods of time?' I do think the talent is there and she just needs to be healthy. She's always been able to come back strong.

Last year, she played great in the first three months of the season, only plays one match at the French Open before Canada, and then comes back and turns it on. Had she been healthy toward the end of last year and the start of this year, I would've picked her to win the Australian Open, but you can't win it if you're not in it.

Also, the longer you're out, the more your (aura of) invincibility to other players (declines). All the sudden they're like, 'Whoah, she's beatable, because she hasn't played.' But if she can get healthy she can do great things."

The American, who also won 20 titles in his career and also coached Andy Roddick, Andy Murray, and Kei Nishikori, says he is also impressed by the 17 year old Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez, "She's shorter than I thought, but given the four players I just mentioned who won slams, I do think if she gets a little bit stronger physically there's no reason why she can't start by making the top 50 and go from there.

I watched her play a couple times at the junior Australian Open in 2019 and was very impressed with her forehand, her serve. She has good guile in her lefty game. I definitely think with her size, being lefty will help her. She definitely has a clever serve and a good forehand so I think she's got a bright future."