In an interview to Tennis Legend, Denis Shapovalov recalled his 2017 Montreal Rogers Cup win over Rafael Nadal. The Canadian prevailed in the third set tie-break to upset the world No. 1 who won two Grand Slams, French Open and US Open and reached the Australian Open final that year.
"It was totally crazy", admitted Shapovalov. "I grew up watching him play and he is one of my idols. Being on the same court and facing him was an honour for me. So beating him in my country was a dream come true.
I cannot describe it in a different way. This is something I will never forget. This memory will stay with me forever. I was pretty relaxed before the match. I headed into the court knowing that I was not the favourite and that I had good chances to lose, so I played very freely.
Before the match I joked, Let's see how many games I can win and what I can do. I only tried to enjoy, not think that it was Rafa but just a normal opponent. I was in the match, in the fight, and little by little I understood I was able to win the match."
Shapovalov feels proud with the start of his career so far. In an interview with Tennis Legend, the Canadian said: "It's really nice to be the Next Gen leader. There are many very talented young players coming and that will be the future of our sport, and it's really surprising to see such a variety of talents.
I have many points to defend this summer, so the most important thing is to keep working hard, make our game improve and try to compete with Rafa, Roger and all the best players." Does he feel that players see him differently now? "Totally.
I clearly feel respect in the locker room. They are good guys who I get along well with, but this year I feel they respect me as a player and it's nice to see that."