'Facing Novak Djokovic again is exciting, I feel confident,' says Denis Shapovalov

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'Facing Novak Djokovic again is exciting, I feel confident,' says Denis Shapovalov

Denis Shapovalov gained three positions on the ATP ranking list in 2020, missing the opportunity to crack the top-10 following deep runs at the US Open and Rome. The Canadian will kick off the new season against the toughest opponent, facing Novak Djokovic in the ATP Cup on February 2.

Denis is excited about the new season and such a strong rival in the first test, feeling confident about his game after a great off-season. Also, Novak and Denis were the rivals at the last year's ATP Cup as well, with the Serb prevailing 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 after two hours and 40 minutes.

Denis gave his best to challenge a great rival, hitting more winners than Novak and more errors, some of those in the crucial moments that cost him dearly. Djokovic repelled five out of seven break chances, grabbed three breaks from five opportunities and stayed calm in the deciding tie break to send Serbia into the last four.

Shapovalov landed only 52% of the first serve in but drew the most from it, struggling more on the second but still offering only five chances to world no. 2.

Denis Shapovalov and Novak Djokovic will face each other at the ATP Cup.

Novak saw none of those in the first set, the one that Denis clinched with a break in game nine when Djokovic wasted four game points. Novak bounced back in set number two, fended off three break points in the third game and gathered momentum that carried him in the rest of the set, securing breaks in games four and six for 6-1.

Denis was back at his best in the opening eight games of the final set to stay on the level terms with Novak, suffering a break at 4-4 before pulling it back instantly to level the score and extend his chances ahead of the tie break.

The more experienced player opened a 5-0 advantage and converted the fourth match point at 6-4 to emerge at the top and secure Serbia's semi-final berth. "I think it's exciting. I had a great match against Novak last year; I feel confident.

I feel like I'm playing excellent tennis in practice. Of course, it's the start of the season, so there are not many expectations. You go out there and see where your level is. It's enjoyable to be back out here playing, competing, especially with this group of guys. It's events like this that I enjoy the most," Denis Shapovalov.