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January 25, 2022

Denis Shapovalov

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

R. NADAL/D. Shapovalov

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

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Could you put into words what it feels like to put in that much physical and emotional effort into something and not be rewarded, at least not today?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I mean, it's tough. Physically I feel fine. Just emotionally more, just sucks to lose that one. Definitely felt like I had it on my racquet. And, I mean, towards, I mean, third, fourth, fifth set I felt like I was the better player, had more chances. Just one bad game for me.

Yeah, definitely sucks. Good tournament for me overall.

Q. I have to ask you about the debate with Carlos Bernardes. Were you getting more and more frustrated or was it something that happened right there and then?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I mean, I think I misspoke when I said he's corrupt or whatever I said. It's definitely emotional but I do stand by my side. I think it's unfair, you know, how much Rafa is getting away with.

I mean, I'm completely ready to play and the clock is ticking 3, 2, 1, clicking towards zero, and I'm looking at the ump, and, you know, obviously I'm going to speak up and say something. I've been ready to play for a minute and a half, and he tells me he's not going to give him a code violation because I'm not ready to play. To me, it's a big joke if somebody says that.

And then after the fourth set, I mean, the guy goes -- and for the same thing last year I wasn't allowed to take a toilet break when I asked for a medical. He had already taken two medicals. He was getting medically evaluated, that's what the ump said after the fourth set, getting medically evaluated, and after the evaluation the guy goes and takes a toilet break.

It's like, where is the line? Where are you going to step on the players and say, Okay -- and again, I respect everything that Rafa has done and I think he's an unbelievable player. But, you know, there's got to be some boundaries, some rules set. It's just so frustrating as a player. You know, you feel like you're not just playing against the player; you're playing against the umpires, you're playing against so much more.

It's difficult. I mean, it was a big break after the fourth set for this reason, and the momentum just goes away. You know, it's much more difficult to play, I think. Again, not trying to say anything against Rafa. I mean, he's a great player. I really respect all he's done. But I just think it's super difficult and super frustrating as, you know, an athlete to go up against all of this.

Q. Do you feel like he gets preferential treatment because of who he is?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Of course. 100% he does. 100%. Every other match that I have played, the pace has been so quick because the refs have been on the clock after every single point.

This one, I mean, after the first two sets it was like an hour and a half just because he's dragged out so much after every single point. He's given so much time in between sets and all this. It's just dragged out.

You know, like I said, I mean, I literally, for the same reason I wasn't allowed to go to the washroom last year at the Australian Open because I had called a medical. I'm not arguing the fact that he had a medical or whatever it is, you know. But how can you get evaluated medically and have a toilet break at the same break and just causing so much delay in the game?

I mean, it's just not balanced, you know.

Q. You and Rafa sort of had a discussion at the net. We couldn't quite work out. It seemed like he was quite amicable. Could you give insight what you were saying to each other?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, yeah, no, it was nothing against Rafa. Rafa was serving and I would expect the umpire to be looking at Rafa and the umpire was staring me down. It didn't make sense to me. Rafa is getting ready to serve, there's a clock right there, as an umpire you should be looking at the server. The guy is staring me down so I just looked at him like, Why are you looking at me? It was shortly after I had said -- obviously, like I said, I misspoke, but he was staring me down so I felt like there was some feud or something. I looked at him, you know.

I was just explaining that to Rafa that it had nothing to do with him.

Q. Did he say anything?


Q. Rafa when he came to the net.

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: No, he was just confused. He just asked me what happened. Then there was no problem.

Q. The first two sets, especially the first set, you looked a little bit, came out flat. Was that nerves? Certainly, a match you weren't able to get revved up until you were down two sets already.

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, for sure, it was nerves. I didn't feel comfortable. It was my first match in a while on Rod Laver so he was definitely more comfortable out there.

Yeah, I think it was just nerves. I just had to get into the match. I wasn't serving great, was struggling with the returns. So the rhythm was off.

But yeah, I'm happy with the way I was able to fight and come back. I definitely found my game late in the third and in the fourth. So definitely, you know, sometimes it's good to have more time, you know, at the Grand Slams to kind of have opportunities to try to find your game.

Q. What did you say to yourself or do to yourself or focus on?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I just changed things. I felt like I was shanking a lot of returns so I just tried to prep a little bit higher. Once I did that, so I was really seeing his serves and returning well.

In terms of my serve, I mean, it improved a little bit, but I wasn't able to really serve the way I wanted to today. Yeah, I mean, I'm not sure why the case is, a little bit of a different court, I don't know.

But, yeah, definitely not too happy with my serve. I felt like that could have been better.

Q. Do you think that's the key to be taking on the big three, sometimes players are in too much in awe of them, step back and you have to stand up for yourself and get out there and fight?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: For sure. Look, like I said, I do respect and appreciate all that they have done, you know? The same thing, I'm just going to add, like the fans, like Daniil said, the fans are cheering in between first and second serves. I mean, out of respect to all the players, like, it shouldn't be happening. I feel like if you're a tennis fan you should understand, like both players are giving an effort. I understand all they have done, I understand all the success.

But, yeah, you're out there trying your best. Why are you clapping in between first and second serves? It's so unnecessary, you know.

But, yeah, for sure, I mean, I just feel like it should just be more even, you know. Already on their own they're so tough to beat and it's so difficult but if you give them more advantages, more advantages, then it just becomes that much harder every time.

Again, I'm not trying to take away anything they've done, of course they're great champions, they're the legends of the game. But at the end of the day when you step on the court it should be equal for everyone.

Q. Looking back at the match in whole, did you think the result was more about the level of Rafa Nadal's play or about the level of your play?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I mean, both. I mean, Rafa did a good job in the last set to once he broke to hold his service games and serve really big, you know. But it was both. I mean, I wasn't able to really feel comfortable out there, but it's not only -- it's not just myself. You know, he's obviously putting a lot of pressure on you and making a lot of balls and playing aggressively when needed.

So I think it goes both ways, you know. Maybe other opponents would give me a little bit more freedom, you know. Definitely, definitely it's tricky.

Yeah, for sure, I think it was a combination of the two.

Q. Sorry for the loss tonight. Just wondering at what point did you notice that Rafa was maybe struggling physically? Was there any point where you thought maybe you should alter your game plan at all, based on that?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I mean, I don't think he was struggling physically. You know, we're both struggling physically, it's a five-set match, so I don't think -- obviously he called the trainer for some painkillers and this and that. But in my mind, at least if he's on court, then I'm not focusing on if he's, whatever, you know, whatever it is. I mean, I have aches and tears, as well. I haven't been 100% the whole tournament, so I don't think it's something that I paid any attention to.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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