Australian Open: Denis Shapovalov expects a ‘long battle’ against Rafael Nadal

Denis Shapovalov produced one of the biggest upsets till now at the Australian Open, beating World No.3 Alexander Zverev on Sunday.

Denis Shapovalov in a file photo; Credit: [email protected]

In the ongoing Australian Open, Denis Shapovalov produced arguably the biggest upset till now, beating World No.3 Alexander Zverev on Sunday to reach the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park. Next up is a massive challenge for the Canadian, who will be up against 20-time major champion Rafael Nadal in the last eight encounter. Shapovalov had his watershed moment at the age of 18 in 2017, when he shocked Nadal in front of his local supporters in Montreal. At the age of 22 now, he has a massive opportunity to cause another upset and get to his second major semi-final.

“I’m definitely expecting a long battle out there. Obviously he makes you play a lot. His defence is very good. He’s very good at what he does,” Shapovalov said. “So [I’m going to] have to try to play my game, take it to him and keep doing what I have been doing, playing patient, fighting for every point, and just picking my spots to play aggressively.”

Overall, it has been a great start for Canadian tennis this season. Shapovalov and countryman Felix Auger-Aliassime guided their nation to the ATP Cup title recently. Auger-Aliassime will take on 27th seed Marin Cilic in the fourth round of the Australian Open on Monday.

“I think what we’ve been doing has been amazing, especially with the start of the season for Canada,” Shapovalov said. “And what we’re doing in Australia here is special, as well. Hopefully a lot of Canadians are able to watch.”

READ MORE – Denis Shapovalov tennis player biography, family, records and awards

‘There were a lot of doubts once I got to Australia’

Opening up about his start to the season, Shapovalov said, “There were a lot of doubts once I got to Australia with the quarantine, having gotten COVID, not sure how I would take it, not sure I would be able to play ATP Cup,” Shapovalov said. “Obviously very happy with the way I’m feeling, first of all, coming out of quarantine, playing ATP Cup, had a little bit of doubts. [I] wasn’t ready to play the first match and kind of worked my way through the tournament and started to feel back to normal towards the end of that week.

“So it was a good sign. And then coming here, I had a couple of aches and wasn’t feeling 100 per cent physically. So wasn’t practising that much, to be honest, and [was] just trying to prepare the body as best as possible.”

Denis Shapovalov on his new coach

Notably, Shapovalov and Mikhail Youzhny parted ways at the end of the 2021 season. After that, the Canadian began working with Jamie Delgado, Andy Murray’s former coach, recently.

“Jamie was one of the guys that me and my team had thought about. We heard that he had split with Andy. So we just gave him a call and asked if he’d be interested to join the team and try out and see how it would work,” Shapovalov said. “Obviously it’s been really good so far. It’s been just a couple of weeks. Obviously it’s really new. But we’ve definitely clicked in terms of personalities and in terms of working on the court. I think we both have kind of the same vision for my game.

“I feel like he’s a super understanding person. Obviously he’s got so much experience and he’s been through so much with Andy. So he’s definitely got a lot of experience under his belt. That’s something that I really thought would be great to add to my team.”

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