Denis Shapovalov is an athlete who doesn’t need to be showered with praise to feel talented.
He knows he’s talented.
What some may perceive as arrogance is simply the unshakeable confidence that he’s always had in his abilities—something no one can hold against him.
Shapovalov took everyone by surprise at Rogers Cup in Toronto last year, when he defeated then world no.19 Nick Kyrgios. At only 17, the Canadian went on to fight and ultimately lose a tough second-round battle against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.
Twelve months later, the Canadian has bypassed the qualifying event and is once again in the main draw of the tournament. Sitting at world no. 134, he will face off against 33-year-old world no.64 Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil.
“For me, it’s exciting to be back here,” he said. “It’s my first time in Montréal, second time playing the Rogers Cup main draw. For me, there are no nerves. I’m playing good tennis right now. I’ve been doing pretty well so I’m very confident in my game. But it’s going to be tough. As I said, he’s a very good player and last year doesn’t mean anything. It’s a new year, a new event so I’m going to give it my best shot.”
Shapovalov is coming off solid wins at his last two tournaments: he played in the semifinals of the Granby National Bank Challenger, falling to countryman Peter Polansky, and took top honours at the Gatineau National Bank Challenger. He even found his way into the main draw of Wimbledon for the first time in his career. He believes that success is all about your mindset.
“In recent months, the thing I most improved is the mental side, on and off the court,” he explained. “On court, staying calm and just channelling my emotions and my thoughts during a match. Off court, being more professional, stretching, eating correctly, taking care of the body and all that. I think that’s helped me a lot in my game. I think I should still continue to improve that part of the game though. For me, tennis is mostly mental so if I can perfect that, I think I can be a very good player.”
The Ontarian has had great success in Québec this season, winning the Drummondville National Bank Challenger and the Gatineau Futures and reaching the semis of the Sherbrooke Futures: “I’ve been doing extremely well [in Québec], I’m not quite sure what it is. Maybe it’s the poutine. I think just playing at home has really helped me and the fans really support me out there and I feel that in the matches to be honest. They carried me and it’s been leading me to playing good tennis.”