World no. 12 Denis Shapovalov came to Dubai with a mediocre 3-4 score in 2021, never beating a top-30 rival. The Canadian found his game in the desert, beating two rivals and advancing into the last eight in style. In the second round, Denis toppled Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-3 in 76 minutes, playing on a high level on both serve and return to remain on the title course.
Shapovalov lost 11 points in nine service games and never got broken, challenging Hurkacz to repeat that and securing three breaks with a reliable return performance that carried him over the top. After the match, Denis said that he is pleased with everything he has achieved so far in a career, improving his game constantly and getting better every season.
Shapovalov feels confident at the moment, but he still can't say when his game with click enough for him to chase the notable titles.
Denis Shapovalov is through to the last eight in Dubai.
"When you're growing up, you always imagine and wish to be as good as possible.
I never imagined having the run I had so early in my career, and I've been able to kind of just progress through the years and get better every season. So, of course, in one way, I cannot believe that this early in my career, I'm able to play so well, but on the other side, I'm here now, so I'm just like any other player.
I'm trying to keep going forward and keep getting better and improve myself as a player. I've put in a lot of good work with Mischa Youzhny in a training block after the Australian Open, and I feel confident in my game and how I feel physically.
But it's impossible to say when everything will click together. It's never guaranteed, and I am fighting for every point. I was playing great tennis today. I struggled with Hubert in the past; he's such a great player, and he's got many weapons.
He's not easy to play against, so I'm thrilled to get my first win against him. I think I've been playing well and taking my chances; I was serving well today. I felt it during the important points," Denis Shapovalov said.