The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

PRESS CONFERENCE: Denis Shapovalov (d. Herbert) 1R

August 6, 2019

6-3, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Given the previous five matches, the adversity you faced tonight with all the breakpoints, how is your mindset compared to the previous matches? How much confidence do you get by saving all the breakpoints?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, I think honestly I haven’t been thinking about the last five matches. I feel like I kind of had a fresh start, taking a couple weeks off.

But, yeah, definitely it was huge to kind of just fight off those breakpoints. I wasn’t serving the best. I was just trying to fight out there.

For me it was so much fun to be out there. It’s honestly a dream come true to be going out there prime match, playing in front of so many people, so many people that are backing me.

I was excited the whole week for this moment, regardless of win or lose, just to be able to play in front of everyone. Honestly, it really brings a lot of joy for me. It’s moments like this why I chose to pick up a racquet.

Q. I remember watching you last year in Toronto, your second round, it was against a top-20 opponent, Fognini, you were playing on Court 2. Over here you’re on the center, the crowd from the moment you had the breakpoint chance is lively, with you. Does it feel different to you being in front of this crowd? What does it do for you having them be you?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: I think Toronto was amazing last year, too. Yeah, it was on Grandstand, but it was also super, super loud, a really fun match. Also really fun last year.

Definitely I think Montreal is a very special crowd. It’s got to be one of the best tournaments and one of the best fan bases in the world. They’re very knowledgeable, first of all, in tennis. They know what’s going on. You can really see they follow you, they’re really big fans of you. Yeah, I feel like they’re playing every point with me. It’s amazing.

It’s honestly a dream. It put a smile to my face when I walked back on the court. Obviously two years ago it was a dream run for me. I couldn’t wait to get back to this court, to this tournament.

Today, it was just fun to be able to play. Every point, they’re so engaged. Like I’ve always said, I feel that brings the best out of me. I’m able to play more freely and just enjoy myself. I had that fire back today that I’ve been missing, especially the last couple weeks. Maybe it’s been longer than that.

It’s good to kind of get back on the right track.

Q. Do you think you struggle a bit when the atmosphere isn’t like this? This is a week over the 52 of the year. Sometimes you have to play on Court No. 4 against someone else, the atmosphere not like this.

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Definitely. I think it’s much tougher to get up for matches when you’re on a smaller court, or you know the fans are a lot more calm.

For me, like I said, it’s so much fun to be out there playing in front of fans that truly know what’s going on, that are backing you. Even if they’re not with you, you got some fans with you, some fans for the other guy, it’s such a fun atmosphere. So much more enjoyable. When you’re Court 4 or 5, 50 people watching you, they’re not really into it, it’s tough to get into the match.

I think that’s a little bit what I do struggle with. I have to kind of remain who I am and keep my personality regardless of the tournament I play or the court I play. It’s so easy to kind of not get down but not treat it the same way.

Like I said, I think it does bring the best out of me. It’s an important lesson for me to kind of just keep trying to be as energetic as I am, as pumped as I get.

Q. Would you say you’re on your best surface now?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, definitely. Obviously I always have pretty good results this time around in the season. Of course, I think the week prep here really helped me. First of all, I was training in Toronto, on those courts. They’re similar to this.

I think having a little bit of extra time on this surface is really going to help me hopefully try to go deep in this tournament.

But, yeah, for sure. I think this swing is so much fun for me. I think it’s honestly the part of the season that I love the most. You’re in North America playing a lot of tournaments in that kind of atmosphere that I grew up in. For me, Montreal, Toronto and New York, they’re some of the greatest tournaments, some of the greatest crowds. Definitely a part of the season I look up to.

Of course, I think the court surfaces, they really help me. I can really expose my serve on them. At the same time I think I have enough time for my big back swings, to kind of go for my shots.

Q. How much did you mentally tap into what you did here in 2017? How do you do that?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Yeah, first of all, I always kind of try to go back when I’m a little bit down or confident. I try to go back into the best moments of my life. Obviously here was one of them. New York was the other one. I try to look at my matches and see the way I’m playing, see what I’m doing there, see the way I’m acting.

For me, a lot of people mention, I kind of lost that fire in me, that pumpedness [sic], whatever it is. I was like, You’re so right.

Obviously leading up to the tournament, you see all these videos playing back, playing back of me in 2017. I got to watch a lot of myself. It really inspired me to kind of go out there today and just enjoy myself, just like two years ago. Have fun out there, fight for every point.

It just takes you back, takes you to the same feelings I went through two years ago: walking on that stage, seeing all those people, full crowd, sold-out place, just putting on a fight for every point.

Like I said, they’re there with me. It helps me so much. Yeah, for me it was easy. I’ve been really excited to kind of go back out there and I’m really excited for my match against Dominic.

Q. At the end of your match you said you want to improve your French. Why is it important for you? Is it a way to give back to a crowd that you really like?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Of course. That’s probably a big reason of it. First of all, French is an unbelievable language to learn. I used to know it really well when I was young. I was actually pretty fluent. I went to a French school. On all the trips that I did, I was with a lot of guys from Québec. They only spoke French. I got pretty good.

Obviously throughout the years, you lose it. In Toronto you’re not speaking it. I think it’s a bit of a pity because I think it’s such a beautiful language to know.

After all, I am Canadian. Canada is bilingual. For me I think you should speak both English and French. It’s definitely on my to-do list. Yeah, I’ll try to keep practicing it. It’s a little bit tough on the road because you kind of get into it, then you forget about it, you start focusing on whatever other things. Every time it’s like starting over.

Definitely something that I’ll try to really focus for. Of course, lastly for the crowd, to kind of give back. Whenever I’m in Montreal, try to show my appreciation, the gratitude. I feel like they just embrace me so well as a city, as a province.

Q. Now you play Dominic Thiem. He hasn’t been successful at the Rogers Cup. He won an important title at home. What do you expect?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: He’s definitely going to be very confident right now. He’s coming off a win. It’s always tricky to play a guy that’s full confidence, that’s won a lot of matches under his belt.

At the same time I think it’s going to be tough. He’s coming from Europe. He’s going to be a little bit jetlagged. He’s switching surfaces. That’s never easy. I’m going to try to use all those things to my advantage as much as possible. Yeah, just try to take it to him.

Honestly, I’m just going to try to go out there, enjoy myself, put up the best fight I can. I think I do have a chance to win this match. I really believe it. I’m going to do everything that I can to try to accomplish that.

Q. Tomorrow you have maybe the only day off that you’ll get if you go deep into the tournament. What do you plan on doing?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: Playing doubles (smiling).

Q. Do you think you’ll have time to take a look at the match between Felix and Vasek?

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: What time do they play?

Q. Second, 2 p.m.

DENIS SHAPOVALOV: It’s going to be tough. I’ll definitely try to catch them, of course. At the same time I’m going to try to get ready for doubles. I mean, it’s just as important for me.

Yeah, it’s difficult because, of course, I mean, that’s a popcorn match. That’s going to be a really fun match to watch. I’ll follow. I have to stay somewhat semi-professional, kind of take care of my body, get ready for the singles on Wednesday, but also for the doubles tomorrow.

But I’ll try to get a couple glimpses, even on the changeovers if they’re showing the score.