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March 12, 2019

Denis Shapovalov

Indian Wells, California


6-4, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It seems like since the minute you burst onto the scene, you have been one of the guys that everybody wants to watch play. You're electrifying. You go for your shots. Now it looks like you're growing into a level of maturity with your game that's more about winning than being a shot maker. Talk about that process and that evolution, and is it just about maturity and getting a little bit older?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: For sure. I think it's just about improving. I have always been a guy that's not scared to go for it, and maybe that's kind of why a lot of people like to watch me. Obviously, first of all, just having a one-hander, it's usually nice to see. I love, I think, every player with a one-hander, So there's that.

But also, like, shot makers are just fun to watch, right? That's always been kind of who I am. I go for my shots. It's been a process for me to kind of slowing it down, toning it down, and knowing when to go for the shots.

And just, like, yeah, maturing and going to the next level, just picking and choosing. Because in one way, I don't want to lose my game. I still want to go for my shots and play my style of tennis. On the other hand, yeah, it's about picking the right moments and not, you know, just bailing and just, you know, growing as a player.

Q. I think he hit an ace to go up in the fifth game.
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: He hit a bunch of aces.

Q. But then you won the next point. You hit that fantastic backhand cross.
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: In the second?

Q. You actually ended up breaking him. You hit a phenomenal leaping... What's that do for you when you hit a shot like that, or is that just an ordinary shot for you?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Definitely not an ordinary shot. That was a bit of a screamer. Once I hit it, it felt good. Didn't see where the ball was until it kind of passed him.

After that, it definitely pumps me up when you know you're probably losing the points and the game is done, and then you hit an unbelievable shot, I kind of tell myself, Okay, let's go. This is the moment now, this is the point, this next one.

So it kind of pumps me to try to break him after that.

Q. Does it make you want to rap after the match is over?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah (smiling). Yeah, I don't mind ever rapping, but it's just like -- it wasn't easy after the match to find my thoughts, find the lyrics.

I remember we were talking before the -- after my second-round match, and we just said, prepare something, you know, in case I win today. So I wrote down a couple of things, took me two, three minutes. Didn't actually look at it until after the match today. So I was like, Oh, my God, what are the lyrics again? What are the words?

Yeah, that was fun. That was cool. It's something I have been doing as a hobby. It's just a fun little part of me.

Q. If the tennis gods said to you, Hey, Denis, Djokovic has this great two-handed backhand, Roger is not even going to teach his kids the one-handed, but defend the one-handed backhand...
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I know. I'm so upset Roger said that about the one-handers. I think it's an unbelievable shot. I think he's right that it's a tough shot to teach, especially when you're young, because you're not strong enough.

A lot of players are getting the ball above your head, it's tough to hit, for sure. I think in the long run it's an unbelievable shot.

It's a great -- like we mentioned, you know, everyone loves seeing a one-hander. It's just so pretty to watch, first of all, but it's also so effective. I don't think with a two-hander you could hit a shot like I did today. With the one you have a little bit more flexibility to kind of go for and maneuver the ball.

I definitely stand strong on the one-hand side. Yeah, I mean, I love it, and I think so many great players had one-handers. So it is a great shot.

Q. Little more freedom?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Definitely. Definitely a lot more freedom. I think you can create a lot more, a lot more angles. Obviously with the two-hander, if you get a guy like Novak whose two-hand is unbelievable, you could hit it just as well. But I think with the one-hander, as you get stronger, it's easier to hit the angles and go quick.

Actually, at the end of the day, it's just kind of a player's preference, you know. When I was growing up, naturally I was letting go, I felt more comfortable with the one-hander. So I think it's a bit of a preference, but I do love the one-hand.

Q. Just looking at your game and all your shots, which one is the one where you feel there's more development to go through, the one that needs more work?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I think there is a lot of aspects of my game that I could really improve and keep going. My returns have gone a lot better, but that's always something I'm strong about to work on. You know, I think if I can have sharp returns, then I will have a tough lefty serve. So if I can be breaking guys and I play with a lot of confidence.

And I think, you know, sharpening up my net game. It's gone a lot better. I have been playing a lot more doubles just to practice a little bit more volleying.

But, you know, my game is to be offensive and come in. So if I could really have a net game as sharp as Roger, for example, that would be kind of the next step.

Q. What effect does being here have on you? In February you're playing indoor tournaments in Europe. You come here. Do you think that's part of you playing so well here?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I don't know. It's different, right? Like, I enjoy the European swing. It's a lot of fun, fun events, really chill. But I do think outdoor I'm able to just kind of get some more balls, play a little bit more freely. Outdoor conditions seem to suit me. Not that indoors don't. I mean, I grew up in indoors.

But I also think I had a good preparation here. I came a week earlier, played a lot of matches, a lot of training going into it.

And I remember I told my team after Europe, they told me to take a break, but I told them, you know, like, I'll take two days' max, but I don't feel like I need a break right now. I want to keep going, work on my game.

There were a couple of things missing in my Europe swing that I focused on to clean up. It's really showing the last couple of matches here.

Q. Any practice with any one guy the week before that you remember that you kind of felt, I'm really playing well?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I think with Milos, actually, we played both really solid tennis. That was the first time I felt like, okay, I'm starting to feel my game again. I'm starting to play some good points. The ball is sitting on my racquet.

And ever since then, I have been able to play some really good tennis.

Q. Do you have any desire to play 2020 Tokyo Olympics for Canada to win the medals? What's the priority?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Of course. That's a dream come true to play the Olympics, especially in Tokyo. You know, it's such an amazing place. I love coming there every year. The people are so friendly.

I'm really looking forward to hopefully, hopefully, I'm hoping to keep my ranking up to get in. It would be an honor to play for Canada and play the Olympics. It's something I dreamed about doing as a young kid, you know. It's definitely on the Bucket List.

Q. For someone who is trying to help raise the profile of American tennis, maybe you can enlighten us as to what's been going on in Canada the last decade or so. You guys have had so much success: you, Milos, Felix, Genie. Looks like you play with such joy on the court. What can you advise us to help us with our juniors here?
DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I think it's just important -- well, first of all, I think guys like me and Felix got inspired off guys like Milos who obviously got inspired off Daniel Nestor.

I think it was kind of a snowball effect for Canada. Started with Danny winning so many titles, medals, stuff like this. Then obviously we have Milos and Vasek who are doing unbelievable. And I remember me and Felix, growing up, at the camps and stuff, watching Milos and Vasek play Davis Cup and thinking, Oh, my God, we want to do that, you know.

And I think it's important to kind of have a good group of players, you know, just a lot of camps, a lot of regrouping, stuff like this. I remember when I was young, we had a lot of regroupings with Felix, with Ben, a bunch of young players.

And I honestly think we had such a strong group, the '99's and 2000's, there were ten of us doing amazing for juniors, and that's super important. You know, we had a bunch of rivals. We were always competing against each other. And surely enough, there is only a couple of us that kind of shot up.

But I feel like ever since then, me and Felix have been sort of competing against each other in a way. I remember in juniors he kind of shot up, and then I got to his ranking, then I won Wimbledon, then he won US Open. So we have kind of been competing against each other, and now we have again with this tournament, the last couple of events.

I think it's just super healthy for us. On the hand, we wish the best for each other, but on the other hand we are kind of getting inspired off each other's results. So it's pretty important to have kind of rivalries like that.

But I just think, yeah, it comes from being young, getting inspired from these big guys.

As myself, I really try to give back to the younger guys, younger students in Canada, you know, I try to make time for them, talk with them, even hit with a couple of the players that are growing up, just to kind of give them inspiration and insight to what the tour is like. Just motivate them to keep climbing.

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