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February 9, 2021

Denis Shapovalov

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference


3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Fantastic match. Do you see Jannik as one of your main rivals in the year years to come?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, definitely today was just I think incredible tennis from both of us. Honestly, I think Jannik is super talented. He's such an amazing player. You know, he's a great guy, great worker.

I'm sure he's going to be a very, very tough opponent in the future, and obviously I wish him the best. You know, I'm a really big fan of his game and how he is.

Q. Did it feel a bit unusual for you to be the older guy on court with a young gun just sort of having a go at you at this level?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, it's definitely not often that that's been the case, but, you know, for me it was kind of nice to see, you know. It was kind of, like, Okay, let's see what this guy can bring to the table.

Obviously, you know, I know his game pretty well. I have seen him play a lot. We have practiced a lot. But of course when you're playing a match it's different. You know, he was playing just great tennis. I mean, I think we both were.

Yeah, of course it was different to be kind of the older guy. I think I used that to my advantage, you know, especially these three- to five-set matches there are a little bit difference with the momentum switches.

You know, I was in a similar position a couple of years ago when I played Jo-Wilfried Tsonga serving for the match in the fifth set. So I'm really happy I was able to use that experience and kind of make a change for this match.

Q. Do you think it made you play differently, or did you just play with a different, like a more positive mindset?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I don't think it made me play differently. Just, you know, when you play a bunch of these matches you grow on experience. For sure, yeah, you make subtle changes where you want to go, how you want to play.

But, you know, of course again every match is different, but for sure I felt more comfortable 5-4 up in the fifth set today than I did against Tsonga a couple years ago.

So it's great to kind of use these matches to build. Of course, you know, even I felt like in the beginning he was playing so good, but I was just staying patient and waiting for my opportunities, waiting for my chances to kind of switch the momentum. I felt like I did that really well.

Q. You didn't make the second round last year. Do you already feel better about coming to Australia this time?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, no, I feel like I always have been able to play really well here. Just had tough matches, you know, especially last year I also had a very tough first round. It just didn't go my way. But I'm really happy this year. Obviously the first round went my way.

So, you know, I feel like every time I come to Australia I'm able to produce some great tennis, so I'm really happy to be through and hopefully I can go a bit further.

Q. At the end of the fourth set when you asked for the break, there was a little bit of exchange with the umpire. Was that part of your experience coming through as a veteran, saying I need to calm down here, slow things down, you know?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I mean, first of all, I was just blowing off steam, just kind of cooling my head, getting rid of it.

But also, you know, I do think it's a dumb rule. Especially for me, I've got the smallest bladder ever, so I literally got to take a piss every set. So it's difficult, especially when you're on that court for so long.

Before the match I'm trying to hydrate as much as possible, so yeah, I gotta pee, man.

No, of course it wasn't the umpire's fault. But for sure I could have been there and back by the time the physio got to the court. So I do think that we should be able to take more breaks and go to the wash room, because we are forced -- not forced, but we could be on the court for three, four hours, you know.

So I think I think even taking those little breaks, it's worth -- not worth, but I think we deserve it.

Q. Next match, your thoughts there? Could be an interesting encounter with Bernie.

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, of course. I think he's a very tricky player. Obviously he's definitely been around for a while. He's got a lot of experience, and he's tricky. He's got a great serve. He's really solid, got great hands.

Not going to be easy for sure. Of course Australian as well so the crowd's going to be behind him.

I think it's another difficult match for me. For me it's just trying to recover right now. I feel like my game is really good right now, so hopefully I can play just as well as I did today.

Q. I think here in Canada there was a collective groan when tennis fans saw you were facing a young talent like Sinner in the opening round. What's your reaction when you first see the draw and you see you've got a tough opponent who has been playing so well lately like him? Did the match live up to the challenge you expected when you saw his name next to yours in the draw?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, well, for me, you know, it's kind of -- it's not a name you want to see in your draw in the first rounds. But on the other side, you know, for me it was fun leading up to the match.

You know, when I saw it, I was like, Okay, this is exciting. He's in great form. I feel like I had two great matches the week before, so I feel like I'm in form.

So I was excited for it. And of course it lived up to the expectations. It was a long five-set match, which is literally what I expected. So I'm really happy just to get the win.

But honestly, even if I lost today, it was just so much fun to be out on that court. I felt like both of us were playing at such a great level, and it was fun to be a part of.

Q. Would you mind sharing a quick comment about seeing Bianca Andreescu, a fellow Canadian, come back to the tour after a 15-month absence, and what that must mean for her and for tennis in our country?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, no, it's definitely great to see Bianca. Of course you never want to see any players injured, especially Canadian players.

It's really great to see her back and looking healthy.

Q. From an Italian point of view, I must admit I was supporting Sinner.

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Of course, no hard feelings (smiling).

Q. Well, it was a great match, anyway. Did you ever feel at some point that maybe he was a bit tired because of the fights the last two, three days? Was that some kind of push for you, you know, being optimistic because he could go down from one moment to another?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yes, of course it was in my head, and of course it's never easy when you're playing so many matches before a Grand Slam leading up to it.

I do think he was able to compete and move well to the end. You know, I felt like he was -- obviously he had dips and so did I, but I felt like physically of course we were both tired, but I felt like he was still moving pretty well.

But of course it was always in my mind that I'm just a little bit fresher. I was able to kind of rest the last couple of days, and he's had to play some difficult, very difficult matches.

I know he played a long one against Khachanov and he played yesterday literally the final. It's definitely never easy before a Grand Slam, but for sure it was in my head and definitely gave me a little bit of confidence. You know, I did feel like I was probably the fresher guy on the court.

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