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August 22, 2020

Denis Shapovalov

New York, New York, USA

Press Conference


6-3, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. A good way to come back to the tour. Your serve seemed to work really well for you. How did it feel being back out there, your first ATP match in quite a while?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I don't think I could have played much better. It was a really tough draw to play Marin first round. He's such an amazing player, and he's proven that time and time again.

So it was definitely not easy for both of us out there. So I'm really happy to get a win against him and start back really strong.

Q. What was the time away from the tour like for you? Where were you during it? How much did you work on your game versus maybe take some time off? A lot of players have talked about enjoying this rare chance to be away from the grind of the tour.

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I mean, I was really lucky, because when everything went down in Indian Wells, I actually stayed there for like 10 days. Then after that, we went to Florida with Mikhail, and he was actually able to stay a long time with me.

Actually, during that time I was supposed to train at IMG and it closed down. But luckily there was a private club that kept certain hours open for us, so we were just able to practice really freely. I mean, I think it was really good.

Then after that, I headed to the Bahamas and was there just over a month. I vacationed a little bit and started practicing a little bit. The Bahamas, at the end, got a little bit tricky because they started getting some more cases and they started shutting down.

Towards the end, it got a little bit tricky, but overall I think I was really fortunate. It was great Mikhail was able to stay with me most of the time, because I feel like I was able to work a lot with him and he was just really helpful.

Q. Were there any aspects of your game in particular that you either changed a stroke or worked on a particular strategic element or anything that you wanted to focus on?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I mean, there is a lot of things. I think the first thing was really working on the footwork. I feel like that's a big area where I can improve.

You see the guys like Novak and Roger moving. It's just another level. We really focused on that a lot.

Coming to the net, net game -- unfortunately I didn't play too much at the net. Cilic was coming more than me tonight, but yeah, I definitely worked a lot on the net game as well.

Q. You strike me as somebody throughout your career who kind of likes playing in front of a crowd, the interaction and the support you'll get. I'm wondering what, for you, is it like to be out there under these circumstances without the fans in the stands?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, honestly once it got down to it -- I mean, I love the fans and I love the roar of the crowd when you hit an amazing shot. But when I was dialed in, focused, I wasn't paying too much attention to it.

At the end of the day, it just came down to playing tennis. Yeah, definitely it's different, but we have gone through it. We played futures and challengers where there is barely any people watching, just your team.

Clearly it's amazing to have my team support out there, but I think the trickiest thing today was not asking for the towel. I think I did that about 10 to 20 times, and I just had to apologize to the ball skids. I'm, like, Sorry.

They had no clue what was going on. Like, Do I get it for you? Do I not? (Laughter.)

That was the tricky part. Other than that, I was just focusing on tennis.

Q. This is something about something different. Nobody in society now is supposed to have, like, normal kinds of human interaction, including shaking hands. Is it a little awkward or weird to head to the net and want to shake the other guy's hand and you remember you can't?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, it's tricky because you want to show your opponent respect, win or lose, any match. And especially, I mean, I think Marin is a super nice guy, so it's a little bit tricky. You can't really acknowledge them.

But, I mean, it's just a small part. I think it's going to be tougher playing doubles tomorrow, you know. We have to try to keep our distances and we can't really High 5. So that's going to be the tricky part.

I know the rules are strict here, but, yeah, it's like -- I don't know. I think there is a bubble for a reason. You know, you don't have NBA guys or NHL guys not touching. So I think that rule is a little bit strange to me, but, I mean, I understand it's a health priority and safety. So it's going to be interesting, but, yeah, I mean, I'll let you guys know how it is.

Q. You came out and played such a clean and tidy and calm match by your standards when you're in full flight. You didn't play any exhibitions or anything during the break. To what do you attribute that to?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I just think -- I was ready, training. Like I said, I was really lucky to be training these last couple months and throughout the whole pandemic. So I felt like I was ready.

Of course the match play is tricky when you don't have -- I had no experience. I didn't play any XOs, like you said, anything. Of course I didn't know how it was going to be out there.

For me, it was just fun to be back and playing. So as soon as I kind of stepped on the court, just felt natural to me. And, yeah, I was just focusing on my things.

You know, I have been working with a psychologist now with Mikhail, and I feel like that helped me a lot. I was just kind of concentrated on my own things and just focusing on the match really. So it didn't really faze me that I hadn't played in a while.

Q. You have hardly been injured in your career, so it's not like you have had breaks.

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I'm not worried.

Q. Can you tell me who was in your box tonight?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, it was my mom, my physio, Nick Marchenko, who has been with me since I was super, super young, like 10 to 12 years old, and my girlfriend Mirjam.

Q. Somebody else sitting in the back?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I think it was Rohan and Scotty, his coach.

Q. Scotty, okay. How are you working that out with the two hotel rooms? Are your mom and your girlfriend bunking together?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: No, we were lucky that we got an extra room. Yeah, it was definitely going to be tricky at first, but, yeah, it's lucky that we got a third room because it would have been weird. (Laughter.)

Q. Great match. I would like to know what about Pella and Dellien? What would you do about this if something like this it happen with you and with your staff, if something like this is happening now?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I think it's -- honestly, it's horrible. I mean, I was one of the first people to kind of stand up and be, like, Listen, we've got to do something about it. We have to stand up because it's just unacceptable. It could happen to any player.

I just think it's not fair that they didn't retest them. There is like, what, a 7% chance that it could be a false positive and they don't even try to retest.

In the meanwhile, Hugo and Pella, they are both testing negative constantly. So why aren't you guys letting them play?

I was really trying to stand up with players, but, you know, it's like when it came to it, some players backed out and, you know, it was disappointing. But, I mean, well, we'll see, but I honestly I can say I tried.

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