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May 29, 2018

Denis Shapovalov

Paris, France


7-5, 6-4, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. How do you feel about your game today? Not the best start but after that you sort of seemed to get on the ball.
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, it was really tough conditions today with the rain. The court was getting pretty heavy, but the balls especially, they were getting really fluffy and heavy. It was tough to play against a guy like John on such a slow court.

But, you know, at the same time I felt like I played really well. Really used the advantage of the new balls, you know, really tried to dictate the first couple of games when they came out.

Yeah, I'm really happy with the win. It's not an easy match against John. He's such an experienced player.

Yeah, it was some good tennis out there today.

Q. You're getting quite the star treatment. Lenglen, main room. What were your thoughts when you saw the schedule?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I like it. You know, I feel like the fans really like me out here. It's always great to be in a place where you have the fans on your side.

Yeah, first match on Suzanne Lenglen, it's an honor to play on such a great court.

Yeah, you know, it's great to be here. First time in the main draw. First time seeded. Like I said, every match is a bonus for me. I'm happy to be going out here.

Q. You have played, maybe not at a Grand Slam in the rain before, but you have played in the rain before. You were getting fairly annoyed about it, I would say, in the first set. What did you do to calm yourself down or turn the page on it? Was it when you went inside?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Definitely, I was a little bit surprised they didn't stop it before. Obviously, I mean, it's tough for them, first couple days there are so many matches.

The court was still fine. So they had a point, you know, that we can keep playing on.

But honestly, like I said, I tried to use the new balls to kind of help myself reset and take advantage of it. Yeah, but it was tricky out there with these tough conditions. It's a little bit annoying, you know, as the rain gets in your face, you get soaked. At the same time, I'm playing a guy that's, you know, that's really solid with heavy balls.

So it wasn't easy, but, yeah, after we came back from the rain delay, there was no more rain and the balls weren't as heavy. I felt really good out there. I felt like the third set we played really high quality tennis. It was fun for me.

Q. Your coach was saying that you didn't play your best tennis but you won in three sets, so that's a good sign. And also, I would like to know when you were trailing 5-2 in the first set, what were you thinking? Seems that you never panic. Martin was saying a few weeks or months ago, especially on this surface, you could say, Oh, gosh, it's going to be a tough match. But you came back strong.
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I mean, it's a three-out-of-five sets. I knew even if I lose the first set it's going to be a long match. I'm going to stay there until the last point is played.

I wasn't too concerned 5-2 down, I knew I had a couple of chances before the break so maybe I would have a chance that game to break him at 5-3, I think.

So, yeah, I stayed pretty calm. And like I said, it was the first set, and it's a long match, especially on clay. I wasn't concerned.

You know, I felt like in the first set I was still the better player, even though he had broken me. Yeah, I feel like that and also, yeah, maybe my confidence on clay has grown. My inner belief that I can come back is there with me during the tough moments, and, yeah, it's given me a little bit of inner confidence.

Q. As someone who took part in the NextGen last year, what do you think of what RG has done in changing the warmup and extending time in between points here? Are you all for bringing some of these NextGen changes to the tour?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I mean, to be honest, it's not too crazy of a change with the minute clock as soon as you walk on court. Yeah, that's about it, really. I mean, to me...

Q. (Off microphone.) They also changed the time...
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: That's for quallies, no?

Q. Only for quallies?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I think so, yeah. No?

(Discussion between journalists off microphone.)

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I don't know. I think it's cool to try, you know, new stuff out. Honestly I kind of forgot today that with the one-minute rule when you walk on court, the ref reminded me a couple times, even after the rain delay.

But, yeah, it's just something you have to get used to. I don't think it's changed anything that much, but I think it's cool that the ATP is trying to change the game a little bit and play with new stuff.

You know, sports have always got to evolve. Yeah, it's always good to see that they are trying things out.

Q. If you look back to this time last year and compare your meteoric rise, what have been some of the keys of success for you over the last 12 months to have such an upward trajectory?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I think it's just been a lot of hard work. Obviously it's tough to climb the way I did. It's been pretty crazy. Even I didn't expect it.

But, yeah, I mean, I'm just trying to stay focused. Like I always say, doesn't matter the week, doesn't matter the result, I'm always trying to get back on the court and get better. I'm only 19. I have a lot to improve, a lot to learn, so it's going to be a long season for me. You know, a long career, I mean.

You know, guys like Roger and Rafa, they are improving at 36, 32. I'm 19. You know, I have a long way to go to get to where they are or even close to what they have achieved.

So I think, you know, it doesn't matter if I'm having -- if I'm in a time of success or not. It's just important for me just to keep getting out there, keep getting motivated to improve my game.

Q. You talk about wanting to improve and having areas where you can improve. What is one or two specific ways in which you think you can be a better tennis player?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: There are so many things that I can probably sit here for hours talking to you about what I can improve.

You know, things on top of my mind are definitely the return can get more solid. My net play can get a lot better. Definitely my first-serve percentage can go up, even though it's a weapon for me.

Just things like this, the way I use the momentum switches during the matches. Obviously that comes with experience, but that's something, you know, me and Marty have also worked on.

I still think mentally I can still improve. I still have lashes here and there where I could be mentally stronger or, like I said, use the momentum switches better.

You know, there is a lot of things. To me, it's kind of positive that, you know, today I am where I am, 25 in the world, and I feel like I have so much room to improve. For me, it's motivating. Like I said, I keep wanting to go forward, keep getting better.

It's always something, you know, athletes at the top level kind of want to do.

Q. You talked about Roger and Rafa improving as they get older. Does that take the pressure off you, then? You say you're only 19. Is that an added pressure because you are only 19?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: That's an interesting question. I like it (smiling).

No, I think, you know, what they have done is something that probably nobody is ever going to see again or it's going to be a while till you see it. Rafa, 19, he was winning Grand Slams. Roger, the same. I mean, the guy's got 20 Grand Slams. It's just unheard of.

But, yeah, I mean, at their age they are still improving, still getting better. So for me it's kind of calming, in a way. You know, I feel even if I don't have the results right now, you know, this year, next year, I feel like I have such a long way, you know, so much time to improve and to get to where they are right now.

So for me it's, you know, there is not much pressure. I'm 19. I'm playing freely every tournament. Everything is new for me.

So, you know, it's just fun for me to go out there, first of all, in the matches and play at tournaments like this and big courts like Suzanne Lenglen.

But at the same time, it's fun for me to know that I can get better and to actually see myself improving. For me, that's the most satisfying thing.

Q. How much fun do you have playing on clay?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: It's been a love and hate relationship with me on clay (smiling).

You know, obviously I didn't grow up on the surface. You know, it's been a bit of a struggle for me, especially early on. Last year I didn't win a match on clay. So, you know, there's that (smiling).

But I told my team from the beginning of the season I want to play a lot of clay court tournaments. Doesn't matter the results. You know, lose first round, I'm going to go out there next day and keep working hard. It's not for this season, it's not for next season. It was really a goal for just to keep, just to get better, yeah, long term. To me, winning the Roland Garros, it's a dream of mine. It's something I have always wanted to do.

You know, at these early years, I just really want to get better on these courts just to, you know, hopefully potentially couple years down the road I could be a contender for this trophy.

That's why obviously I didn't expect my success to come so early in Madrid, but after Hungary I had a couple of first-round exits. But instead of getting down on myself, I just told my team, We are going to work twice as hard, stay twice as longer and keep getting better.

It's been a journey, let's put it that way. I have learned to enjoy the journey through the ups and through the downs, as well. That's the most important part.

I'm really happy where I am with the clay right now. I'm really enjoying it. I feel like potentially it could definitely become a surface that, you know, that I prefer or is suitable for my game.

Q. Random question. What's the state of your French?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: My French? It's okay. I mean (speaking French). But I'm not really comfortable. Especially in a press room full of journalists where they are going to judge me.

(In French) Yes, I can speak a bit. I studied French at school when I was really young. And I do practice French.

(In English) Off the menu, I try to practice with my team. It's definitely a goal for me to get fluent in French, but it's a process, you know. I'm learning a bit of Italian, bit of French, a bit of everything.

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