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January 19, 2019

Denis Shapovalov

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

N. DJOKOVIC/D. Shapovalov

6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0


Q. How good is he?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: He's good. I think he's No. 1 good (smiling).

Yeah, honestly he's really solid. But I had my chances definitely. Especially after the third set, I felt a little bit physically dead. He started the fourth really well. After that it was a little bit tough. The balls rolled. He was really taking advantage. He played a really good fourth set. After that it was a little bit too late.

But the first two, it was a little bit difficult for me in terms of it's not every day I'm playing a match against a top guy like this on a stage like that. Definitely I was a little bit nervous, a little bit tight on everything, just hesitating a little bit. I felt a little bit tight on everything.

In the third set, that's when I kind of loosened up and started playing my tennis. I just started really just enjoying myself. I told myself, Look, you're already down two sets, so just have fun out there. That's where I felt like I really started to play my game and really showed what I can do out there.

I felt like I was definitely really dominant in the third set. It was good tennis. It was fun. Like I said, in the fourth, he played a good set. It was a little bit too late for me to catch up.

Q. You had a nice embrace together at the end. Can you tell us what he was saying to you?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: No, we didn't say anything (laughter).

No, he just told me it's a pleasure to play against me. Honestly the pleasure was all mine, like I said, to play a champion like him in a court like that in an event like this, it's a dream come true for me. During the match, I was smiling, enjoying my time out there. It was a lot of fun.

At the same time 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. 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, yeah, 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.

Q. He was very complimentary of you after the match, about the young group of players. Among the young group, are you close and supportive? Are you getting text messages, Go beat the big players?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: It's kind of like not groups, but honestly for the most part most of the guys are cool. I'm really good friends, obviously because Felix is from Canada, we grew up together, he's like a brother to me. Frances is a really good friend of mine. Most of the Americans, we're really close. I think Alex is a really cool guy. We really get along. When we were juniors, we played a lot of doubles together. It's really great to see him.

I don't think I'm as close with Alex now. But, yeah, guys like Frances, Felix, we're definitely always rooting for each other. Especially Frances, so great to see him doing so well in this tournament. I spent a lot of time practicing, hanging out with him. He's genuinely such a great guy. Really great to see him kind of make that breakthrough. I always have known he's had the potential, the game. He's had a lot of bad luck, tough draws. Great to see him going deep in this event. I'm sure he can go even further.

Yeah, definitely the group is so wide, it's a lot of young, young talented players. It's great to see. Definitely on one side we're all friendly, but on the other side we're all trying to do better than each other. It definitely pushes one another. Having Alex do well last week is definitely motivating other guys to really want to show themselves this week as well.

It's kind of like catching up, all of us. That's why I feel like there's so many young guys doing so well at the same time. We're all kind of thriving off each other's success.

Q. It's obviously physically tough playing someone like Novak. Is it emotionally draining, as well, the intensity?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: It is. He's definitely a guy that 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. 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.

Like I said, I think the first two sets kind of took a lot out of me just because every shot I'm just that 5% extra tight, running a little bit, heavier, tighter. At the end it just kind of gets to you.

For him, it's just another match, it's just another day. For a guy like me, it's something you dream of doing, you really look forward to. Obviously when you get there, it's a lot of, like, nervous energy, you know?

I'm happy in the third set I was able to calm my nerves, start serving a lot better, just playing my game. Obviously you guys saw in the fourth set with his good start, my little lack of energy, he really took advantage of it.

Q. Always seems when you play a guy like that, trying to find the balance between aggression, then also being consistent is kind of the hardest thing. Is this what you feel? Do you only learn that by playing those guys?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Definitely. It's definitely a different matchup. I've noticed most of the guys now when I'm playing, I'm higher ranked, they're going for me, going for their shots, being aggressive, trying to hit winners on you.

Today playing Novak, it's kind of the opposite. He's really baiting me to go for those crazy shots. Now I'm on that side where I'm trying to go for the crazy shots, make winners, stuff like this.

Honestly, he's such a smart player because he always does this. He's moving you around, draining you, draining the opponent. I think that comes with experience, his knowledge of the game. He knows he doesn't have to go for outright winners if he doesn't need to. That's why he is where he is.

Definitely I felt like there were moments in the match where, yeah, I was going for too much, missing a little bit. Some of it of course is bad luck. It's tennis. There's some balls I missed by this much, some where he made it by this much. But that's the sport.

I felt like once I kind of let myself go in the third set, that's where I was able to just kind of stay in the rallies more, enjoy myself, play good points, play good tennis. I found that range between, yeah, just moving him, playing the point, and being aggressive when I needed to.

Q. You've watched him play, watched other people play. What was the physical challenge of trying to compete with the way he wears his opponents down compared to what you thought it might be?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Honestly, it's pretty much everything I expected. Once you grow up watching a guy for so long, you've seen him play so many matches, I felt like I actually kind of knew his game so well just from watching him play so much.

I felt like I was reading him pretty good when he was hitting his forehands, where he was going with the ball. I had a pretty good idea with the game. I think it was a little bit, like I said, with me today, I wasn't able to really show my game in the first two sets. I was there, I was kind of in and out. Some games were great, then some games I was tight, shanking, not there.

Like I said, with the third set, that's when I finally started to kind of let loose. 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 a little bit nervous, it just drained me in the end.

Q. What is your team going to look like for the foreseeable future? Who are the people traveling with you besides Rob?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Right now that's it. I got obviously my mom with me, always helping out, always coaching, giving an inside look. Clement Golliet, my fitness trainer has been working with me for five, six years now since I was a junior. Stefano, my physio, who I've been working with for a year and a half now, over a year. Definitely Rob. He's a new addition to the team from last year. I think we've been doing some really good work together. He's definitely going to be around with me right now. That's it right now.

Q. Did you sense at a point towards the end of the third set the crowd were really pulling for you? Putting it another way: the crowd were turning against Novak?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, definitely. I mean, you feel it. Honestly, it was an amazing atmosphere. It was great to have so many supporters. Yeah, especially like you said, late in the third set, they were really rooting for me, helped me pull that set out I feel.

Yeah, 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.

Honestly, I'm a little sorry for them that I did run out of fuel a little bit in the fourth set. It's a big thanks to them. They really helped me in the third. Like I said, they helped me pull that set out.

Q. Do you think that was because you were a big underdog or any other reasons?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I don't know. I'm not sure.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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