Shapovalov Lives Dream Against Djokovic
(sam., 19 janv. 2019)
After six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic defeated #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov in four sets on Saturday, the World No. 1 told the 19-year-old that it was a pleasure to
compete against him. But for Shapovalov, it was a position he strived to put himself in for a long time.
“Honestly the pleasure was all mine. To play a champion like him on a court like that in an event like this, it's a dream come true for me,” Shapovalov said. “During the match, I was smiling,
enjoying my time out there. It was a lot of fun.”
At the same time, Shapovalov does not want this to be a one-off. The left-hander, who began the fortnight at No. 27 in the ATP Rankings, had never faced the No. 1 player in the ATP Rankings
before. And the next time it happens, he does not want to walk off the court without taking a victory with him.
“I do want to compete against these guys in the future, in the near future. It's about physically getting ready for these types of matches. I think just getting used to it,” Shapovalov said. “The
first couple times you play these guys, obviously you're going to be a lot more tight. After a while, a third, fourth time you start playing them, you know what it's like already, and I'll have
some expectations going into the match knowing what it's like on a court like this. I think I'm not going to be as nervous. I'm really happy that I can take this match and really learn from it.”
It’s not as if Shapovalov didn’t put on a good show on Rod Laver Arena. The Canadian made an uncharacteristic 32 unforced errors in the first two sets, allowing Djokovic to just play solid
tennis. But after falling behind by a break in the third set, the #NextGenATP star relaxed a bit, dictating points and showing the level that helped him reach two ATP Masters 1000 semi-finals
(2017 Montreal & 2018 Madrid).
“With the third set, that's when I finally started to kind of let loose,” Shapovalov said. “I found my serve starting to go again. I was able to really show my ‘A’ game. But with the first two
sets being that tight, just that little bit nervous, it just drained me in the end.”
What made it even more difficult was not just that Shapovalov started off a bit nervous, but who he did so against. Djokovic made 24 less unforced errors than the Canadian, forcing him to play
his best to have a chance.
“He doesn't give you much. He doesn't give you anything, to be honest. You have to be there the whole match, every point. If you have any dips, he's going to take advantage of it,” Shapovalov
said. “That's why he's so good, No. 1 in the world. I felt that a little bit. Definitely mentally a little bit tired right now. Kind of want to take a nap.”
Djokovic was nothing but complimentary of the teenager. While he was not thrilled that he did not close out the match in straight sets, the Serbian lauded Shapovalov for battling all the way
through their two-hour, 22-minute encounter.
“He's got a pretty complete game. He's got the big serve, a lot of rotation on the ball. He can hit it flat. He can hit it with a spin. I like his mentality. I like his confidence in himself, his
approach. He's very positive on the court, always backing himself up. I like that,” Djokovic said. “Obviously he's lacking some experience playing on the big stage in the big matches, but that's
going to come. I like the way he plays. He seems like a guy who dedicates a lot of time to training and to the process of understanding how he can improve. These kind of experiences can only help
And for Shapovalov, while he’d much rather be celebrating an upset over the top seed, he still enjoyed the moment. It is something he will take with him for the rest of his life.
“It was an amazing atmosphere. It was great to have so many supporters… late in the third set, they were really rooting for me, helped me pull that set out I feel,” Shapovalov said. “It was so
much fun to play on such a big court with such an amazing crowd. Like I said, it was a dream come true for me. It was so much fun.”
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Raonic Thrilled To Back Up Wawrinka Win At Australian Open 2019
(Sat, 19 Jan 2019)
Milos Raonic explains why he was happy with his performance against Pierre-Hugues Herbert at the 2019 Australian Open following a four-set battle against Stan Wawrinka in the second round. Video
courtesy of Tennis Australia.
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