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July 9, 2021

Denis Shapovalov

Wimbledon, London, UK

Press Conference

N. DJOKOVIC/D. Shapovalov

7-6, 7-5, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Obviously a challenging loss today. You were facing the world No. 1. A terrific tournament for you, your first career semifinal. What do you think the main difference was this evening? Obviously the first two sets were so close, seemed to teeter on just a couple points.

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: The third set was pretty close, too, no?

Q. Yes. All of them were.

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I mean, I had chances in every set. Just went his way today. I mean, obviously he's No. 1 in the world, so he's that for a reason. He's obviously played a lot of these matches. Has a little bit more experience. Just played probably better, maybe a little bit lucky, more luckier than me today in the bigger moments and that was it.

I had a lot of chances. I was dictating my game a lot. I thought he felt that. I did everything I could today, and it just didn't go my way. But I thought all three sets I had plenty of chances, plenty of breakpoints. It just wasn't going my way, you know?

Q. I believe that you heard that Novak has forwarded some select words of praise your way after the match. Given the state of your relationship, would you be happy if sometime in the future Novak Djokovic could actually be, let's say, one of your mentors?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yes, I'd be very happy if he could be my mentor because that would mean he stopped playing (laughter).

No, definitely he's an incredible guy. I don't think he's praised enough. Even he came up to me in the locker room, he just said a couple words. For me, it means a lot. He really doesn't have to.

He just told me he knows how difficult it is for me right now. He told me that everything will come.

For me, it's super -- it's big coming from someone like him. Like I said, he doesn't have to do this. It just shows the type of person he is. It's just really nice for someone like me to hear from him.

For sure, I have tremendous respect for him. He's definitely for sure one of the greatest players of all time. It's awesome to hear those words from him.

Q. Tell us about your plans going forward, about your decision not to go to the Olympics. Why was that?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: It was a lot to do with the restrictions, being in the bubble again, this whole situation. I've been here for a month. Mentally I'm starting to go. It's not easy mentally for anybody. That was a big part of the decision.

Obviously I want to play the Olympics, I want to represent my country. It's a dream for me. But it's really tough with these restrictions. It puts a lot of pressure on you. It's really tough on the mental.

I'm exhausted, not just from the tournament, but from this whole situation, the restrictions. We can't leave. I mean, it's not easy for anyone.

Q. Your confidence in your game and yourself was very clear from the outset, much of the match. Could you describe the challenge of keeping that confidence, maintaining that belief, against a player like Djokovic when you are playing so well but the key things keep going the other way often?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, it's difficult. It's something I've been through before, so obviously I think this time I did a better job of it. Against Novak, you're going to have some chances that you're not going to get.

But he does a really good job of putting pressure when it's needed, and you feel it exactly in those moments. He steps up. He does that really well.

In terms of confidence, I think it comes and goes in the match. But for sure I think, like I said, I had chances in every set. I was kind of able to either maintain that confidence or come back to it every single set. Like I said, just a couple points didn't go my way today. A couple strokes could have been different. It could have been a different match.

But it's a learning process for me. Hopefully I can take a lot from this match and use it to keep going forward.

Q. Clearly a lot of emotions throughout the whole two weeks here, especially on your face at the end of the match as you left the court, bid farewell to Centre Court. Could you talk a little bit about what this experience means to you. Does it make you feel closer than ever before winning one of these major titles?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I think what hurt so much this time was just that I felt like the game is there and it's possible to go and play for the trophy. It's a feeling I've never had before, so that's why it just hurt so much. I felt like I was outplaying Novak in parts of the match. If you're outplaying Novak, you can beat anyone.

It just hurt a lot. Yeah, it's been a long month. It's been a long two weeks. It's been a lot of pressure, a lot of mental fatigue. Like, it all kind of spilled out on the court before I could control myself (smiling).

Yeah, that's all it was. But for sure there's a lot of things to be proud for myself. For sure it's almost good to have a little bit of a taste because it just makes me want it that much more going into the next slams and into the future. Now I know exactly what I'm capable of and where my game can be at.

Also the things that I can improve, too, to beat Novak next time or go one step further. There's a lot of positives. It's a great two weeks.

Q. I understand you are hurt and you're suffering for this defeat, but you should be satisfied that you had 11 breakpoints against a player like Djokovic, which means you are competitive, and one day you can be even better than him. Just be optimistic and smile.


Q. I understand when a player has lost, wouldn't care at all what is going to happen in the final. Do you think that Berrettini, if he had all those breakpoints, I mean, he could transform some of them? With his serve, he is able to create troubles to Djokovic or you don't see him having a chance, to be honest?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: No, for sure I think he does have a chance. I felt like from the back I was outplaying Novak a good portion of the match. I think Matteo is looking super solid from the back from what I have seen today and his match against Felix. He's slicing a lot. It's going to be uncomfortable for Novak.

I think with the serve that he has, if he can manage to sneak out a break here or there, win a couple tiebreaks, I think it's going to be really tough for Novak to break him. If he's serving the way he did today, it's super tough to touch it.

Obviously Novak is such a good returner. Still, I mean, it's too good. So I definitely do think he's got a chance, for sure. Is it going to be a battle? Yeah, for sure it's going to be super tough. But there's always a chance, like I said before my match against Novak, and it's the same thing with Matteo.

Q. What was your overwhelming feeling as you walked off court? Can you also talk about Rohan Bopanna sitting in your box and what he brings to the table, as well?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Well, Bopsi brings the coffee (laughter).

No, we've got a really great relationship with Rohan. We started a couple years ago. He just asked me to play doubles in Indian Wells. I actually didn't know him too well before then. We started playing well together, so we kept playing. We just grew into this relationship. Honestly, he's like a brother to me.

He's like a big mentor, as well. He's helped me so much. He's helped me with my net game and confidence, just a lot of things in terms of tennis. Yeah, for sure he's been helping me out. Not coaching, so to say. You know, giving me tips here and there, mentoring me as well. Just being a good friend.

For sure, it meant a lot to have him today. Obviously he lost mixed doubles yesterday or a couple days ago. So for him to stay and just cheer me on, it means a lot to me. Like I said, he's family to me, so it's super awesome to have someone so close to you that's on tour.

Yeah, I mean, in terms of how I felt after the match, it sucked. I felt terrible. And I still do feel terrible. Obviously it's normal. I felt like I had chances today. I felt like it could have gone my way. So the fact that it didn't, it's heartbreaking, for sure.

Q. Are you surprised finally with the level of your game? On grass, you don't have this experience of many, many, many matches. You made really good stuff, really good things. Are you surprised with that? My second question would be, do you think this surface is mainly the mental things which counts the most? Is it going to be the most important challenge for Matteo to make it?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: What was the first question first?

Q. Your experience on grass.

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, well, definitely I had a couple seasons before. I haven't had too many on grass. But for sure I've always felt like it's a surface I'm comfortable with and for sure it's a surface I've always felt like I can play well on.

I've needed to grow on it. The season is so short on it. I just needed time to really work on my game and improve. I still think it can get better on grass.

For sure I'm not surprised. I think I've put in work to play this well. Obviously it's an unbelievable result. Before the tournament, I don't think I dreamed of being in the semis. I do believe in my game, and I believe that I was able to win every one of the matches that I played this week. I do think grass does suit my game, for sure.

The second question? Something about Matteo?

Q. His chances.

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I think anything can happen in a finals. I think I already kind of answered that before.

I do think he definitely has a chance against Novak.

Q. Give us a sense of the overall tournament for you, how you view your progress. You spoke a couple games ago about playing almost flawless. Have you had a chance to reflect on how far you've come in the past two weeks?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, it's definitely just been a lot. Like I said, it all kind of hit me at the end on court at one time. Just been draining, to be honest.

But, I mean, I'm super happy with my level and the way I've been able to play throughout these two weeks. It's a level I've never played before. The confidence and everything, the way I carried myself these two weeks, it's been different. I don't consider myself the same player.

For sure hopefully I can just use this to kind of keep going and even improve even more. Obviously today I felt there were certain things in the game I can improve to hopefully beat Novak next time. For sure I think it was a great two weeks. For sure I don't want to stop here and I want to keep going and just get back on the court and keep improving even more.

If anything, this has made me more hungry to try to win a trophy.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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