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May 17, 2018

Denis Shapovalov

Rome, Italy

R. NADAL/D. Shapovalov

6-4, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Looks like your problem was the court, the clay, and not Rafa. Because you were playing very, very right, the right shots. Sometimes you didn't find out the right movement, the right place. But, do you agree with that?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Well, first of all, I mean, I think Rafa played incredible today. He's been playing at a really high level for this whole clay season. So, you know, it's credits to him. He was just simply too good today.

I don't think -- yeah, I don't think I played too bad today. I felt like I was playing good out there, especially the first set. It was really tight, really competitive.

It's definitely slow clay over here, much slower than Madrid. But, I mean, it's a court. I can't -- I'm not gonna blame it on a surface. It is what it is. You know, we're both playing on it and we got to find a way to win on it.

And, yeah, he was playing really deep today. You know, I was hitting a lot of good shots, but he was countering really well.

So just something, you know, I'm going to have to re-watch and just move on, just take it and go forward. I feel like maybe sometimes I could have came in a bit more, tried to take the ball a bit earlier. In the second set, I felt like he pushed me too far back and he took more control.

So, you know, it's -- it was a fun match for me. I enjoy myself out there. So, yeah, it was a great week.

Q. Did you feel fresh enough, or were you wishing that maybe the circumstance you wouldn't have played so many long matches before that?

I definitely wish I was a bit fresher. I mean, it's been a long two weeks. And I didn't feel like super, super dead out there. But I felt like, you know, I could have been fresher. And maybe that could have been, you know, a little bit of a help to me.

The first set was extremely tough. We had some long games. And, you know, you're gonna have these games with Rafa, and you have to be there every point.

So, yeah, being a little bit fresher would definitely help me. But, I mean, I don't think it would have changed the match much today. Like I said, he played extremely well.

Some things I still have to improve/work on to, yeah, hopefully, you know, next time we play I can turn it around.

Q. Do you think your favorite surface is the hard court, I mean, a quick surface? Or do you think you can change? Some players, at the beginning of their career, were not too good on one surface and, in the end, were much better. They changed their preferences.
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Definitely. I think my favorite surface right now is grass.

But, yeah, I mean, I think the good thing about being 19 is that I'm open minded. I'm open to try and get better on a surface; to learn, you know, how to play here, how to play there.

So, I mean, I'm really happy with my success this season on clay. I never expected to get this far in these tournaments. Really happy with my efforts, my fighting.

So, you know, why not? Maybe sometime in the future I'll love clay, maybe. I don't know, maybe it'll be my favorite surface.

Historically, you know, lefties have done really well on this surface. So, I feel if I can keep learning how to play on it, if I could keep getting better on it, maybe one day it will be a really effective surface for me.

Q. You managed to stay with Rafa in shorter rallies but suffered in long-range rallies. So, what did you learn from your match about your level, your actual level?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Um, I mean, I know my strength area is to play quick, play short points. Obviously, it's not going to happen with Rafa.

But actually, you know, in the long rallies, I was staying with him pretty comfortably. You know, we had some really long rallies. Obviously, he won most of them; but I also won some of them. And, yeah, I felt comfortable on the long rallies, as well.

So it's kind of a lesson to me that I can stay with this guy. I don't have to try to win the points so quickly. I mean, I can win 'em after seven, eight shots as well.

Q. Is the mind-set going into the French Open different? Because now you proved yourself. Does it change the way you approach this Grand Slam or ...
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: You always ask me this.

Q. I asked in French.
Q. Is that not okay?
[ Laughter ]

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: No, honestly, I still have no change of mind. I mean, yeah, I had two good weeks on this surface. Obviously, hopefully I can do well. If I don't, if I go out first round then, you know, I'll be fine with it.

I'm already way past what I thought I could do, you know, this season on this surface. So whatever extra I can give for the French, if would be unbelievable. It would be a huge bonus. But it's not like I'm expecting anything unbelievable for myself.

Q. I asked Rafa what advice he would give you. He said you don't need any advice. You're good enough already.
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I mean, I appreciate that. That's huge coming from such a legend like him.

Yeah. It was -- like I said, it was fun to be on the court with him today. I could really see why he's so tough to beat on this court. And what he's done these past couple years, especially this year on this surface, it's unhuman-like. I mean, it's pretty crazy. He's such a legend. And there's definitely a good reason for it.

Q. Did you talk to him before? Has he given you any advice in the past about your career, things like that?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: No. I mean, we're not that tight, (laughing). We've talked here and there, but there hasn't been any specific stuff.

You know, at the end of the day, we're still competitors. In a way, we're -- not rivals but, yeah, sometimes we compete against each other in tournaments. So we don't want to give away too much. But there's definitely some -- I feel like he respects me as a player. And for me, that's huge.

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