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January 17, 2019

Denis Shapovalov

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


6-3, 7-6, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You seemed to be able to turn it on really well when you had to.
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I think it was another exceptional match for me. Obviously he's a very tough opponent. I knew that going in. I knew it was going to be tough. I'm really happy to get through that in straight sets. I wasn't expecting that, to be honest. I felt in the second set he had a couple chances. I was able to play some big tennis.

I'm really proud today. Yeah, after I got that tiebreak in the second set, I knew that the momentum was kind of with me, so I just tried to stay on it. Played a good game to break, then just served well. I think I've been serving really, really well the last couple days.

Q. Why didn't you expect winning in three?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I just think Taro is a really good player. I practiced with him a couple times. I've seen him play. He's given a lot of trouble to a lot of big players. I definitely knew going in that it's not going to be an easy match, a quick match.

Really happy with my level. I think the tennis was very good. I just was a little bit sharper in the big moments today. Yeah, I'm very happy.

Q. Djokovic or Tsonga in the next round. If it is Novak, can you give us some thoughts.
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, it's awesome. Novak is definitely one of the big guys I really admired and looked up to growing up. It's definitely going to be awesome, just awesome to play against him, see how my game matches up against his.

Honestly, there's no pressure on me now. Obviously he's the favorite to win. I'm just going to go out there, give it my best shot, and see what happens. I think I've been playing really good tennis, so if that continues, I think I could have a chance to really make it a battle and a tough match for him. Hopefully potentially even try to win the match.

Q. What is it like being a 19-year-old winning matches at a Grand Slam?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: It's awesome. Honestly, like I always say, I'm very proud with where I am today. Very proud to enter the third round of Aussie Open for the first time in my career. I feel my game has reached that next level. I feel very solid as a player now. I feel like I've secured my spot in kind of the ATP Tour, in the rankings. I feel like my level is really there now. It's a super proud moment for me.

But I don't want to stop here. I want to keep going, push the top guys, hopefully one day just be there with all these guys like Novak and Zverev. It's a dream of mine. I'm just trying to work every day to hopefully one day achieve that.

Q. What is the difference in how your brain is wrapping itself around playing those top guys now as opposed to a year and a half ago when they may have seemed so many levels above you?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I think probably two years ago I was just happy to be on the court with them, get a couple games. Now I'm thinking how am I going to give a fight to this guy, how am I going to win sets and potentially even the match.

I feel like if I do play good tennis, my best level, it will definitely be a good fight. I'll have a chance to make it a battle out there.

Yeah, that's what I mean in terms of my game's reached another level. Before I felt like when I was on the court with Rafa, everyone was asking me, Are you going to beat him?

I said, Listen, guys, no chance. Come on, it's Rafa. I'm happy to get four games out there, that was my goal, to be honest.

Now I feel like I'm actually there and able to compete with these guys. I'm going to really study his game, see what I can do, where I can break him down. Obviously he doesn't have a lot of holes, being the world No. 1. It's not like the guy has major holes. But I'm definitely going to try to really take it to him.

Like I said, I've been playing really good tennis. I'm serving really big. If I can continue that, then I'll have a fighting chance.

Q. You said you were going to study his game. Would you look at matches between Rafa as a lefty against Novak and see how you can use your left-handedness?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Definitely. I'm going to look at all types of matches. I'm definitely going to try to look at players similar to my game style. I'll take a look back at Paris against Khachanov where Khachanov actually managed to beat him, what he was doing well, what was troubling Novak. And obviously matches with Rafa, I always try to pick up matches where Rafa plays my opponents just because I feel like I can kind of use the same serves he does, kind of play a little bit similar tennis to how he plays.

He's definitely one guy I try to watch his matches. Yeah, I'm definitely going to try to pick up on Khachanov's match.

Q. When you play this year, the surface of this tournament, it's quite fast compared to last year. How do you feel? How does it work for you?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I definitely felt like the court, it's pretty fast on that arena, Show Court 2, 1573 I think it's called. I can never remember, 14, 16 something (laughter).

It definitely plays faster. I played Tsitsipas there last year. I remember it being a little bit slower than it was this year. But I kind of like the speed, to be honest. Obviously with my performance, I can't complain. I've been playing exceptional tennis. Honestly, I was struggling a little bit in the beginning of the match here with the speed. He was serving big. I wasn't able to time it well. Also with the rain delays on and off, it was tough to get a rhythm.

But I definitely do enjoy it. I think if we do go on a bigger show court, I think it is a little bit slower. When I hit with Roger on Rod Laver, it did tend to be a little bit slower than these courts. It's definitely going to be also a little bit of adjusting for me. But honestly, it's just a match where I'm just going to go out there, take it to him, play my game, try to do everything I can.

Q. Now that you are a veteran on tour...

Q. You said, When I hit with Roger on Rod Laver.
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I'm a vet (laughter).

Q. How is the process of trying to learn the non-tennis part of the pro tour, what to pack, what to eat in certain places, what not to eat? You obviously learned the big things because you've been around the tour. Now it's about fine-tuning. Do you try to get something from the other players like you do with shots, or...
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Honestly, I don't really look at other players for this. I feel like it's so specific to each and every player. I know a guy like Vasek, he has strict diets, this and that. I could never do it. Gluten-free, this and that. I can't do that. I don't think I could perform if I did that.

Before a match, I like to get a little bit of pasta, not too much sauce, a little bit carbs but nothing crazy. You kind of learn what really works for you. Like I said, every person is different. It's not like there's one answer, Yeah, you got to eat this before the match. Every player has his own things, even the timing, how early you want to eat before the match.

It's something you kind of just learn as you go on. Obviously I've messed up a couple times. I've eaten way too close to the match. I've had an upset stomach. Or I've eaten too early, and I was a little bit out of energy during the match.

It's kind of just learning and adapting. I think it really takes the full year I had last year to kind of learn that. It's everything. It's about not being at the courts too long, especially in a slam, because it's so hectic, so much going on. When I played my first slams, I just wanted to be there the whole time. You learn you get drained after a while. It's just everything like this.

You just learn with experience. That full year for me, it was just the whole time I felt like I was picking up on new things, learning every week, where I like to play, what I like to do, what I like to do with my off time, when I like to have my days off, everything.

Now I feel like I really know myself. I feel like this year is a year for me to kind of help myself. Last year was, like, learning, okay, this didn't work, this is better for me. Now I know what's really good for me. That's why I feel like this tournament I've been able to play so well.

I didn't take the extra week in Brisbane. I just played Auckland and here. I've been eating right. I feel like this year could be a potentially big year for me. Like you said, I'm not a vet, but I've definitely gotten that experience and I'm able to see what's the best for me.

Q. Novak hasn't even started yet, so he's going to play pretty late. Fair chance you'll play late on Saturday. Would it be fun to play a night match on Rod Laver against him?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: That would be a dream come true. That would be so sick for me. I think every little boy dreams of a reporter asking him, How would you feel playing nights on Rod Laver Arena? That's unbelievable. Honestly, yeah, it would be amazing just to play Rod Laver, but also a night match, That would just be incredible.

Hoping that it is nighttime on Rod Laver. Yeah, like I said, it would be such an exciting time for me. I'm really looking forward to whatever court it is, whatever time it is. Just to play Novak on a big tournament like this, third round of an event, it's a dream come true to me. I'm really looking forward to the match. Or Tsonga, too. It's a tough match for Novak. It's not easy.

Q. You spoke about looking up to Novak, Rafa. Can you imagine someday you'll be a player who others look up to?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: That's a good question. Honestly, I felt like I've been doing a lot of soul searching and talking with my team and everything. Everything kind of came so quick to me. All of a sudden I was in the spotlight. Now, every week if I lose, Denis is disappointing, Denis this. You know that?

For me, it was so much noise, so much this and that. Obviously I was blocking most of it out. But still it does get to you. I was just thinking to myself, discussing to my team, is this really what I want, what do I want in life.

Honestly, I came to the realization, yeah, that's what I grew up wanting to do. I want to be a star. I want to be one of the Rogers or Rafas so that young kids and players, they look up to me, hopefully pick up racquets. Especially in Canada, you know. For me, everything is about the sport in Canada. As much as I love hockey, I feel like tennis is so underdeveloped in Canada. It's just starting to break out that you can become a tennis player from the nation.

But we have such a long way to go. I'm just hoping I can do everything in my powers to be the perfect role model for these young next champions coming up, just be a good guy. I was really thrown off, a couple years ago, I met Wayne Gretzky. He's such a star for everyone. But it's not just about good he was at his sport. It's the way he carried himself, it's the way he was with the fans, with even me, a nobody, especially at that time.

Instead of taking a car from my practice court to go back inside, the guy was fine to walk and sign autographs. I think that's so good for the country. Honestly, I feel very lucky to have lived in Canada for such a long time, been raised there, that I just want to give everything I can back to it, and hopefully just inspire a lot of kids to pick up racquets and play.

Q. You mentioned practicing with Roger, the prospect of facing Novak. Do you still pinch yourself of what your life is right now?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, it's insane, man. It's crazy. Like I said, with that practice, with Roger, I was for the first 30 minutes telling Rob, Oh, my God, I'm so tight, I can't hit. I don't want to miss for him. I want to give him a good practice.

Honestly, Roger, he's so nice. He's always open to hit with young guys. That's also a great thing. He's always open to hit with the younger guys, kind of idolize -- show them how it's done, whatever it is.

But, yeah, it's a great spot for me to be in right now. Playing third round, either Tsonga or Novak, whoever it is, in a slam like this. I'm 19 years old. It's a dream come true for me. Like I said, I'm just going to go out there, enjoy myself. Like I said, I've been playing really good tennis. I feel like I can take it to them and hopefully come up with the win. I'm definitely going to try to go out there and win. I'm not just going to come out on court and enjoy my time. I'm going to put out a fight and try to do everything I can to try to come out with the W.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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