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July 7, 2021

Denis Shapovalov

Wimbledon, London, UK

Press Conference

D. SHAPOVALOV/K. Khachanov

6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. This is the best result for you at a Grand Slam in your career. Can you talk about not only the physical challenges of the match but maybe the mental challenge of staying composed and coming through a great five-set match.

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I think it was super difficult today. Obviously I knew it was going to be a tough, tough match against Karen. We played once before, and it was really, really physical and difficult. I knew he's playing well going into it.

Honestly I felt that he was outplaying me for most of the match. Obviously I had some chances, but he was playing really, really well in those. Kind of everything was going his way.

In the fourth set I tried to actually step in a little bit and play a little bit more aggressively. I felt that he fell a little bit physically, got a little bit tired there in the fourth set. I also stepped up. I felt really good going into the fifth set.

But super, super happy to win. Obviously, when you have a lot of moments like that, you don't capitalize, the match can turn really quickly on you. I was happy even after the Love-40 I was able to capitalize and break him in the end. I just told myself in the fifth set that I got to play every single point as hard as I can and fight for every single point, doesn't matter what the point is, what the score is.

Just super happy. I think it was a real tough battle out there. It took a lot out of me, but super, super proud of myself.

Q. Last year at the US Open quarterfinals, same stage, what did you take from that match and what did you learn from that match that helped you get through today?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, well, I think going into the fifth set today was exactly what I took. I was in a similar position against Carreno Busta at the US Open. I won the fourth set I think at 6-Love or 6-1, really easily. It kind of allowed myself to just, like, relax a little bit and think that everything's under control, that I have momentum.

Then things kind of turned quickly. So I knew going into the fifth set I've got to leave everything I have on the court for every single point that I play. I really felt like I was really in every single return, every single shot. That's the difference I made.

Actually after the fourth set, I told myself, just using that experience from the US Open, this is what I want to change and really start the set off well. I knew I had to serve big as well. I think the fifth set is where I served the best, to be honest. My percentage for sure raised. The speed of my serves were much faster.

I think my game just elevated. It's something to be super, super proud of myself for.

Q. Have to ask you about your next match, facing Novak Djokovic in the semifinal. I know you said anything is possible. Really, how do you prepare for someone like that?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I think the same way. We've played a couple times. Obviously he's gotten the better of me. But the last couple times that we've played, it's been really, really tight. I'm feeling really good. I'm feeling great physically and tennis-wise.

Obviously he's been playing really well. It's definitely a tough battle ahead of me. Like I said, when you walk out on that match, the score is 0-0. It's a tennis match. Anything can happen.

I'm going to fight for every point and believe in myself. I do believe that I have the game to beat him and the game to win that match.

Q. Down the stretch I think Karen was remarking at your ability to keep going for shots, taking some risks that paid off for you. Where does that come from for you, the ability to go for it and swing relatively free? Is that something you have to fight or rein in?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, it's something I've been working on, because maybe sometimes I'm a little bit too wild and I don't make the opponents earn it on the big points.

I've been a little bit more conservative actually this tournament. But it wasn't working out today, to be honest, against Karen. Like I said, I had chances. Every time I was making him play, the guy was coming up with big shots. I knew in the fourth and fifth, I have to dictate myself and be aggressive. Otherwise he was going to win the match.

It comes pretty naturally to me. I've always been an aggressive player. I've always wanted to go for shots. It's actually the other way around that I've had to learn to take a step back and put more pressure on the opponents, make them earn the points.

Sometimes it does help having that naturally come to me, especially in a match like today when the opponent is playing so well and he's not giving anything to you. You kind of have to go and take it yourself. For sure it was great for me today in the fourth and the fifth.

Q. Is it down to your personality that you think you're willing to go big on stuff?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, it's just my personality. From juniors, from a young age, I never was a player that would sit back and wait for my opponent's mistakes. I always wanted to be the one dictating. I was always coming to the net from 10, 12 years old. Getting lobbed back there, losing points.

First of all, my mom always told me later on you're going to grow and this is going to be an advantage to you. It's something that is yours, you have to keep and maintain it for the future.

I think that was massive from her, because I feel like a lot of players, when they're young, they kind of lose that because even if they have it, they're scared at that age to get lobbed or lose points.

For me, it was great that she had that vision for my game years ahead. It's something that, like I said, I've always had. Something that I can always, you know, take out from my game.

Q. How would you describe what both the challenge and the opportunity of this next match mean to you?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, it's definitely a big challenge, for sure. Obviously he's been playing super, super well this season and the last couple years. He loves the surface.

Definitely a super difficult match ahead of me. Like I said, I believe in my game. I think I've been playing really, really good tennis. I mean, to beat these players with the way I've been playing, it's not easy to do. So I have full belief in myself and in my game that I'm able to win on Friday.

Q. What have you learned during this tournament about pacing yourself physically and emotionally during the slams? You were so efficient with a lot of your matches coming through, had a lot more energy left today than your opponent maybe. Also you were very economical with your emotions in the key parts today.

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, for sure. I think I've gotten both lucky and definitely, you know, paced myself really well. Obviously with the start of the week it wasn't looking great because I had to play back-to-back matches. I had the five-setter against Kohlschreiber. Lucky for me I had a walkover the next round, which gave me a couple days to recover.

When I came out against Andy, I was pretty much fresh, feeling good. After that, we had two more days off or something like that for the Sunday break. I've been able to kind of have a lot of rest, which has been amazing for the body.

Obviously playing three sets, for sure it's a huge benefit. I mean, Khachanov, I felt it in the fourth set that he was slowing down a little bit, his body was getting tired. Obviously he had a marathon match the round before.

It's tough. Obviously you always want to win in three sets. You always try to pace yourself. I think I've been lucky to do that. But it's not something that always happens. You kind of have to deal with it as you go along.

Honestly it's been great. Even today when I played the fifth set, I felt super, super fresh. I feel fresh now. Hopefully that continues. It's going to be nice, again, to have a day off and kind of get the body really ready for my match against Novak.

Q. Looking to this match against Novak and the big gap in experience, his 10th Wimbledon semi, your first, he's at home on the Centre Court, it's going to be something new for you. How do you counteract that sort of a difference when you go out there to play him?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: It's nothing I'm really thinking about too much. Like I said, going back to it again, when you walk out on that match, it's 0-0. That's it. It's a tennis match at the end of the day. Experience, this, that, it comes down to that moment and who's playing the best.

That's all I'm focused on. I'm going to talk with the team about strategy and stuff like that. But I'm not thinking about experience, this, that. It really comes down to who's playing the best on Friday and that's it. Nothing's ever guaranteed.

Q. I was very struck by how enthusiastic the crowd were. I wonder if you feel like they've adopted you as one of theirs, almost like an honorary Brit?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I feel like a Brit for sure now. I just got to learn the accent and everything (laughter).

No, for sure it was amazing definitely, the support today on Court 1. Even in my match against Bautista Agut was exceptional. Against Andy wasn't the same, but they were still friendly and cheering for me. It's always nice when the crowd is on year side.

For sure, like I said, I definitely feed off it. Like I said on court over there, without the crowd on my side today, maybe I don't pull through. It definitely would have been tougher for me. They lifted me up in the tough moments. They kept me going. They kept me motivated and moving.

For sure, like I've said so many times, I feed off the crowd so much and they help me so much. It's always super nice to have that feeling.

Q. You've been kind of the favorite or maybe a toss-up against Roberto for most of the tournament. Now you switch to the underdog. Is the underdog mentality something you're going to embrace against Novak on Friday?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: No. I just think, again, it's not something I'm focused on. I'm just going to play my game. I'm not thinking about any of this stuff. It literally just comes down to who's the best player on Friday, and that's it.

I think when you're at the semifinals of a tournament, there's not really underdogs, overdogs, whatever you want to call it.

Obviously he's got experience, this and that. Like I said, the score is 0-0 and you play the match. It's tennis. It could go any way. Anything can happen. That's really my mindset.

Q. Looks like your girlfriend is still in her tournament in Sweden. With the COVID rules and flying in, is there any chance that your dad or brother or anybody can fly in for your semifinal?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: No, no, I don't think so. I kind of like to keep the people that have started the tournament with me around. I don't like to change.

So, yeah, I don't think anyone's going to be flying down. Yeah, it's probably more on me. I just kind of like to have the same kind of environment throughout the weeks.

Q. Where has your mom been hiding?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: She's been chilling in the lounge. Yeah, she's had enough of this tennis, so she's just chilling (laughter).

No, I'm kidding. She's watching the matches but through the livestream.

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