Denis Shapovalov: 'Defeating Rafael Nadal started my career'



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Denis Shapovalov: 'Defeating Rafael Nadal started my career'

2017 marked the return to high levels of Rafael Nadal, who came from a couple of seasons well below his standards. The Spanish champion first had to digest his defeat with Roger Federer in the Australian Open final, but returned to asserting himself on clay by winning his tenth Roland Garros.

A few months later the triumph at the US Open would come, which allowed him to end the year at the top of the ATP ranking. In spite of the countless satisfactions, the Majorcan has also cashed in some unexpected defeats. The one with Denis Shapovalov in the third round of the Rogers Cup in Montreal comes to mind.

The young Canadian, who at the time was only 18 years old and had no experience in a Masters 1000, played what remains one of the best matches of his entire career. Interviewed by Sportsnet in recent days, the current World number 16 has revisited that magical evening, which after three years still makes him shiver.

Shapovalov: 'I'm nervous just watching again'

"Honestly, I'm nervous just watching again. I'm nervous, I'm sweaty, it's as if I'm playing the match again," said Denis Shapovalov. "It looks gruelling, to be honest.

Especially at that age and stage of my career when I was nowhere near where I needed to be physically to play against a guy like Rafael Nadal, who is used to playing matches like this just day in and day out. I remember cramping during the match and after playing and defeating Rafael Nadal, having to come back the next day and play (Adrian) Mannarino.

It was like torture in a way. I just remember finishing the US Open and my entire team being very emotional about the last month that had just gone by. In that span of a month we had just made crazy history. It (defeating Rafael Nadal) completely started my career.

It was an unbelievable moment" - the Canadian added. 'Shapo' has since reached another Masters semifinal at the 2018 Madrid Open, and became the top-ranked Canadian on May 21 as part of his ongoing climb in the ATP rankings.

Mikhail Youzhny, a former world No. 8 has been added to the coaching team as Shapovalov's new "shot selection" coach as that has been an issue for Denis until this point of his career. Shapovalov finished last year on a 21-10 run that included his maiden ATP Tour title in Stockholm (d. Krajinovic) and first ATP Masters 1000 final in Paris (l. to Djokovic).