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August 16, 2018

Denis Shapovalov

Cincinnati, Ohio

M. RAONIC/D. Shapovalov

7-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Very difficult loss but great effort.

Q. Darren Cahill was in here the other day talking about Simona. He's waving her off now, because he says if she's got a problem, solve for herself or she'll never play her best tennis. It appeared you were problem-solving out there, trying things out, maybe making errors. But is your philosophy you've got to do that to progress your game at this point, maybe take a loss today for future improvement?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, for sure it's something I'm willing to improve on. I don't like to be a one-dimensional player. I like to try to kind of figure things out. Especially when Milos is serving that well, I tried to stand back a little bit, tried to go in.

But sometimes it's tough on days like this when he's feeling it so good on his serve, it's not easy to play against. I was just trying to do a bunch of things.

Today I figured, you know, he wasn't returning that well off the backhand side, so I kept trying to pin him on that side, and it worked out pretty well for the most part. Maybe I could have moved him around a little bit more, but he was playing really well.

So it was a good match. I had my chances. Unfortunately I blew it a little bit. I rushed a little bit on set point, but it's just experience. Stuff like this happens. I'm only 19. I'm just going to learn from it and move forward.

Q. You had the set point, and then it carried over where you didn't necessarily play a good first service game in the second set. Were you still thinking, holding on to that, or trying to do some different things?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Maybe a little bit, but I just think I kind of started rushing a bit more on the second set. Maybe it was just a little bit of lack of focus, still thinking about that.

Yeah, I came in on a couple of balls that weren't good to come in on and just rushed in general a little bit. So like I said, it's something I'm going to look back into and just try to take forward. You know, I think on the other side, did a good job trying to come back. Obviously he kind of gifted me the game back with three doubles. I still fought and hung in there and tried my best to break and to come back.

Q. So next month you're going to have the chance to play with Daniel Nestor or on his team in his final match before he retires, so can you just give me some of your thoughts on his career and maybe the legacy that he's leaving? Because Canada has never seen a player like him.
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Definitely. I don't think the world has ever seen a player like him (smiling). Yeah, honestly I remember growing up and he was already a legend in my country and he was already old (smiling).

I was in my junior groupings, and he would come out once in a while and watch us play and we'd all get nervous. That just shows you how much we would look up to him. And to kind of have a chance to play by his side in the last couple of Davis Cups has meant so much to me. What he's achieved not only has driven Canadian tennis upwards, I think it's just driven, you know, doubles and tennis in general in such a good way. You know, he's just won so many countless titles. He's been around for so long, and I think he's truly going to be missed on and off the court. He's a really fun guy in the locker room.

Q. You have completed a lap around the circuit. Arguably last year's Rogers Cup was a life-changing moment for you. Then you were seen in a different way by the entire tennis world and you have done a lap around the circuit. Now we're back to square one, as we always are. What's your reflection on the lap? And what's your reflection on the US Open where you will have a fairly good performance to defend? You will not be the new kid on the block anymore.
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I think it's safe to say I'm a veteran. As of this point I have become a veteran on the tour (smiling).

No, I mean, it's been a crazy year for me, been so much fun traveling, playing all these new tournaments. Like you said, this was my last tournament that I've have never played before on the circuit. It's pretty cool to have kind of that yearly point, see how far I have come, just not even as a player but as a person, how much I have grown.

I'm really happy with the progression I have made, and hopefully I can just keep going forward. Honestly, like you said, I'm defending points in New York, but I'm not thinking about that too much. For me, the most important thing is just to keep improving my game. Like I said today, there are so many things I can work on, so many things I can improve on that will benefit me two, three years down the road. That's where I'm trying to kind of just, you know, envision my game or, yeah, where I see myself.

Q. There was a moment I think three points into the match when the rain started again. You invited the ball boy to sit down next to you, and you got to talk for a little bit, actually. I went over and talked to the ball boy and he couldn't stop smiling.

Q. Do you realize what something as simple as that means to a young kid?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, of course. And honestly, it wasn't about that. It was just -- I saw him standing in the rain, so I was, like, why not just sit down and have a chat? It's going to start raining, anyways. I was one of these kids not too long ago, so I know what it means to have a player you're looking up to or any player really just be so nice to you and kind of just have a chat with you.

You don't get that experience every day. So I'm sure he's gonna remember that, and I think in a way hopefully it just kind of motivates him. I asked him if he plays tennis. He told me, yeah, he loves it. Hopefully it inspires him to get on the court and play.

Like I said, that's my goal in my career. I want kids to come up and want to play tennis and love the sport, and, yeah, that's what I have been doing. Honestly, it was -- he was a really nice guy. We had a nice little chat. It was fun.

Q. What was it like the very first time you met Milos Raonic? And what's your relationship now on and off the court?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I can't even remember when I met -- oh, I think I met him, we went for -- he invited me to hit with him one time. It was several years back in Toronto. We just hit. It was a pretty light hit. He was just coming back from an injury or from a break. It was a pretty light hit.

Yeah, we talked a little bit. Nothing crazy. I wouldn't say he's the Canadian I know best. Actually, I don't know him too well. We haven't been able to play on the same team at Davis Cup unfortunately the past couple times I have played. Yeah, we haven't played too many tournaments together, so I don't know him extremely well.

But from what I know, he's a pretty nice guy. You know, we always have a little bit of a chitchat here and there, and, yeah, he's cool. I don't know.

Q. Tsitsipas said last week that he got the motivation from you a year ago in Canada, so some young players coming up, you get some motivation to be the best of the generation or better than this guy, or how has the relationship changed from the juniors?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, with all the NextGen guys it's motivating when you see someone going up, doing well, you kind of want to do better than him. It's a healthy kind of rivalry for the most part. All of us get along pretty well.

But to be honest, I'm just kind of trying to go my own route, take my own time. I know it's going to take time for me to improve. Like I have mentioned before, I see my game two, three years down the road trying to lift titles and win big events. I'm not really concerned about my, you know, my results and performances these couple, you know, months or whatever.

For me, it's still just important to keep getting back on the court, working hard every day, improving my game so that in a couple of years I can be a really good player.

Q. You mentioned the "R word" a few times, "rush." You're obviously aware of it and play with a lot of passion and adrenaline. How are you working on that to not overcook or rush your shots?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, it's always been, I wouldn't say "problem," but it's always been my personality as a junior coming up. It was impossible for me to get into a rally when I was growing up. I would just serve and try to hit the line off the second ball (smiling).

So now I have gone a long way. I'm actually trying to work the ball a lot more and play longer rallies.

Yeah, it's just my personality, trying to go for the winner. But it's just something I'm working on, especially on the big points. You know, when someone is not pressing me or whatever, just build your point and then go for the kill, you know. Just have a better chance of making that shot.

You know, I think it's a good problem to have, you know. Most of the players, it's the opposite. They're too scared to go in on the big points. For me, I go for it too much. It's just about toning it down. I don't think it's a huge problem. It's going to come with experience. Just match play, I think, in general.

You know, it's one of those days also, you know, if I go for that forehand and I make it today, I win the set and it's a different story, right? For the most part, yeah, I mean, like I said, it's something I'm still working on.

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