"I came into the match confidently knowing I've imporved...I just kept fighting..." Canada's Denis Shapovalov proclaimed to theATP tour media fter defeating Roberto Carballes Baena. Shapovalov had much insight as to what he has to do to claim a win over Baena who won over him at Roland Garros.
It was straight sets of 7-6, 6-3, 6-0 that the Canadian proved his ability over Baena and hopes his mantra continues. It was just a few months ago that Shapovalov reached the semi-final berth at Wimbledon with along the way showing victories over Andy Murray, Roberto Bautista Agut and Karen Khachanov.
The 22-year-old Canadian didn't always have it so easy as he remembers bowing at the opening round to Frances Tiafoe at his hometown Toronto event. It was also at the Western and Southern in Cincinnati that he fell to France's Benoit Paire.
There were a few too many matches that he lost consistently that he wanted the Big Apple slam to be different. It was. He won his opening round against Federico Delbonis and had the gut feeling that New York just may be a magical place for him.
"I think in general New York is a city I've always felt loved in," the lanky 6-footer remarked. Denis has been around awhile and at 22, used to be a part of the Next-Gen players along with Tiafoe, Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev.
But those ATP guys have upped their levels and so has Shapovalov. He is in the top 10 now and has all the reason to keep elevating his skills, consistency and mantra. He's scrapped the long blond hair for a shorter more mature look.
Shapovalov can also be a philosopher and knows when he should be aggressive in a match and tighten his game for success. "It's super tough to play Carballes Baena. I knew that going into it. I knew it was going to be a long match...I'm really lucky to get out...in three straight sets," Denis smilingly says.
The night wasn't short of expectations from the massive floods surround New York on a night that Shapovalov was also lucky he didn't have to play. But his Spanish opponent splashed down 14 unforced errors, simply opening the door for Shapovalov to do something positive and he did.
The Canadian completed his match capturing 50 winners and nine aces, glad the match didn't have to go any longer. It was his last trek with Carballes Baena that had him on court over four hours and then resulted in defeat.
This time was totally different. It's hopeful that Denis Shapovalov will have three times the charm and win over his next opponent in the third round, South Africa's Lloyd Harris. They've met only once at the Dubai Championships this year and it wasn't very pretty for the Canadian who went down in three sets including 2 tiebreak sets.
But time will only tell and Shapovalov believes that the combination with fan support will pull him through giving a sweet victory to put on his U.S. Open draw.