Having a chance to play against your childhood idol for the first time is not an easy task by any means, especially not on the big stage when you play for the place in the final. The 19-year-old Denis Shapovalov had the opportunity to learn that on Saturday night at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, suffering a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Roger Federer and missing a chance to advance into his first Masters 1000 final.
It was a stellar performance from the 20-time Grand Slam champion who outplayed the youngster in every department, dropping just eight points on serve and doing more than enough on the return to pass the upcoming star who was overwhelmed by the occasion and the rival on the other side of the net.
Speaking about the match, Denis praised Roger's game, calling him the greatest player of all time and the one with no weaknesses in his game, something he demonstrated against him as well. "It's always tough to lose but it's enjoyable to be out there with your idol on the court, I gave it all I had.
Roger played a good match today, that's all you can say. I was trying to kind of get into the match, starting a little bit tight unlike him who started pretty strong in the first. In the second set, I tried to turn it around and had a couple of chances which I wasn't able to convert.
I hit that ridiculous volley and think even he said 'no way' or something. I just tried to get the crowd involved and have a little bit of fun. I think he has mastered every shot and when he needs one, he's going to make it.
He will go for it and make it, that's why he is the GOAT, having no weaknesses in his game. It was kind of surreal, being on the court against him. I wasn't trying to focus on the fact that it's Roger on the other side, just trying to play as good as I can, and, you know, he did a good job today, playing an excellent match.
I wasn't able to stay at his level and I'm going to try to learn from this and move forward. I have practiced with him a couple of times and I knew what to expect. I knew the ball coming off his racquet, it comes with a lot of pop, it's pretty heavy.
Yeah, it was no shocker, to be honest. But like I said, he's a complete player with no holes in his game. Clay proved to be a kind of a good part of the season for me last year and I think I have proven myself on the dirt, possessing the skills to beat good players on it.
It is a little bit different change of pace, going to have to play differently than the last couple of weeks, I'm looking forward to it."