Denis Shapovalov ‘expects a long fight’ against Rafael Nadal | ATP tour

Denis Shapovalov upset number three Alexander Zverev at the Australian Open on Sunday to reach the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park for the first time. The Canadian knows it won’t get any easier Down Under, with 20-time Major Rafael Nadal waiting in the last eight.

“I definitely expect a long fight out there. Obviously he lets you play a lot. His defense is very good. He is very good at what he does,” Shapovalov said. “So [I’m going to] gotta try to play my game, bring it to him and keep doing what i’ve done, play patiently, fight for every point and just pick my spots to play aggressively.

Shapovalov made his first big statement on the ATP Tour at the age of 18 in 2017 when he stunned Nadal in front of his home fans in Montreal. Now 22, he has the chance to upset one more time to reach his second major semi-final.

It was a great start to the season for Shapovalov and Canadian tennis in general. Shapovalov and compatriot Felix Auger-Aliassime, who plays Marin Cilic as 27th seeded Marin Cilic in the fourth round of the Australian Open on Monday, led their country to the ATP Cup title in week 1.

“I think what we’ve done is great, especially with the start of the season for Canada,” said Shapovalov. “And what we’re doing here in Australia is also special. Hopefully a lot of Canadians can watch.”

Denis Shapovalov” />
Photo Credits: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Shapovalov is now 7-1 in singles this season. It’s off to a scorching start, especially given that he tested positive for COVID-19 on his arrival in Australia and had to be quarantined, leaving him wondering how things would go Down Under.

“There were a lot of doubts once I arrived in Australia with the quarantine, because I got COVID, not sure how I would take it, not sure if I could play ATP Cup,” said Shapovalov. “Of course very happy with how I feel. First, I had some doubts when I came out of quarantine and played ATP Cup. [I] wasn’t ready to play the first game and worked my way through the tournament a bit and started to get back to normal by the end of that week.

“So it was a good sign. And when I got here, I had a few aches and pains and I wasn’t feeling 100 percent physically. So I didn’t practice that much, to be honest, and [was] just trying to prepare the body as best you can.”

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The number 14 on the ATP ranking has also had to get used to a new coach. At the end of the 2021 season, Shapovalov and Mikhail Youzhny broke up. The Canadian started working with Jamie Delgado, Andy Murray’s former coach, and so far has been “great” according to the southpaw.

“Jamie was one of the guys that me and my team had been thinking about. We heard he broke up with Andy. So we just called him and asked if he was interested in joining the team and trying out how it would work,” Shapovalov said. “Of course things are going very well so far. It’s only been a few weeks. It’s clearly really new. But we definitely clicked in terms of personalities and in terms of court work. I think we both have roughly the same vision of my game.

“I feel like he’s a super understanding person. Obviously he has so much experience and has been through so much with Andy. So he definitely has a lot of experience under his belt. That’s something I thought would be great to add my team.”

Everything is going well with Shapovalov. Now he will aim to maintain his level against 2009 Australian Open champion Nadal.

“I’m just really happy with where I am now in terms of play and level. Obviously every day is different. But I feel that with every game I have gained a little confidence and a little comfort playing on these courses said Shapovalov. “I’m generally happy with my game so far and my fighting spirit. just fight [it] out in every game. Hopefully I can continue this way.”

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