A fascinating French Open found-round battle between two young stars takes place on Sunday as men's top seed Carlos Alcaraz meets 17th seed Lorenzo Musetti with a spot in the quarter-finals on the line.
Having been taken to four sets by Japan's Taro Daniel during their second-round battle, a similar story very nearly unfolded for Alcaraz against Shapovalov, who threatened a second-set comeback against the reigning US Open champion on Court Philippe Chatrier on Friday.
However, displaying excellent movement and proficiency at the net while 4-1 down in the second, Alcaraz quickly extinguished any hopes of a Shapovalov comeback, seeing out a 6-1 6-4 6-2 triumph in two hours and 10 minutes during his first-ever meeting with the Canadian.
The world number one benefitted from a spate of errors from Shapovalov's racquet, as the 26th seed racked up 10 double faults and won just 37% of points behind his second serve, and the fleet-footed Alcaraz took full advantage, winning 72% of points at the net and firing 25 winners compared to Shapovalov's 17.
A final shot into the tape from Shapovalov sealed Alcaraz's 33rd win from 36 matches this season - as well as his 23rd from 25 matches on clay - as the 20-year-old bids to reach the quarter-finals at Roland-Garros for the second year running.
A last-eight elimination last year represents Alcaraz's best run at the French Open in his fledgling career, and while the big-hitting Spaniard will no doubt have eyes on a deeper run this time around, his equally aggressive opponent is not to be taken lightly.
As was the case with Alcaraz, Musetti was the beneficiary of a plethora of mistakes from British number one Norrie, but take nothing away from the world number 18's scintillating showing against the Wimbledon semi-finalist, who bowed out with a whimper in the third round again.
Musetti took two hours and nine minutes to put Norrie to the sword 6-1 6-2 6-4 and deny Alcaraz a reunion with the man that he has already met in two tour finals this year, closing out the win on a shanked Norrie forehand which characterised the Brit's miserable afternoon.
Winning 83% of points behind his first serve and posting 23 unforced errors compared to 49 for Norrie, the in-form Musetti is yet to drop a set at Roland-Garros this year - allowing him ample time to rest and recuperate before a meeting with the world number one - and is making headlines for all the right reasons.
Impressing with the quality of his drop shots as well as baseline exchanges, Musetti is out to reach the quarter-finals of the French Open for the first time, having got as far as round four in 2021 before retiring in the fifth set against Novak Djokovic.
However, the Italian has already stunned Djokovic on clay during the Monte-Carlo Masters this season - albeit while also falling to the likes of Jannik Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas - and Alcaraz already knows all too well what his fellow young starlet can bring to the table.
Tournament so far
First round: vs. Flavio Cobolli 6-0 6-2 7-5
Second round: vs. Taro Daniel 6-1 3-6 6-1 6-2
Third round: vs. Denis Shapovalov 6-1 6-4 6-2
Head To Head
Internazionali di Tennis Citta di Trieste (2020) - Semi-finals: Alcaraz wins 7-5 2-6 6-3
Hamburg European Open (2022) - Final: Musetti wins 6-4 6-7 6-4
Before both men took the giant leap to ATP Tour level, Alcaraz and Musetti first butted heads in the semi-finals of the 2020 Internazionali di Tennis Citta di Trieste Challenger event in Italy, where the Spaniard prevailed in three sets en route to the clay title.
However, Musetti successfully completed his revenge mission when the duo renewed hostilities in last year's Hamburg final, defeating the world number one in three sets to win his maiden ATP Tour title.
That triumph for Musetti marked Alcaraz's first tour-level final defeat on clay, having previously prevailed in four successive showpiece matches on the surface, as the Italian recovered from letting five Championship points slip to sink his upcoming Roland-Garros foe.
We say: Carlos Alcaraz to win in four sets
As much as Alcaraz and Musetti deserve all the plaudits for the manner of their dominant third-round wins, they were greatly helped by mistakes from Shapovalov and Norrie respectively, such luxuries that will surely be scarce against one another.
Musetti should no doubt capitalise on any more second-set lulls from the man that he has already beaten on the clay, but the lightning-quick Alcaraz is looking unstoppable at this moment in time and is our pick to book a spot in the quarter-finals, but it will be far from a cakewalk for the number one seed.