11:00 PM GMT June 11, 2018
#NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who will pursue his first ATP World Tour title this week at the MercedesCup as the No.6 seed, was recently featured by GQ Magazine.
The left-hander could potentially face Roger Federer for the first time in the Stuttgart quarter-finals. In the feature, the teenager recalls his epic match against Rafael Nadal at last year’s Rogers Cup:
In the third set tie-break against Nadal, Shapovalov was exhausted and in pain. “I thought, Hey, just remember you can be out here with these guys, you can’t win yet, but you can fight, you can push them until the end. On match point, I thought, screw it, let me go for the down-the-line and see what happens. If I make it, I’ll win. If I don’t, I’ll probably lose the match.” Shapovalov made it, notching the biggest win of his young career. “I blacked out after that. The stadium was so loud. My ears almost popped. It was the loudest thing I’ve ever heard in any sport event ever.”
Shapovalov’s game is a high-wire act, risky and elegant. Every swing of his racket is full, unchecked. He hits his lefty, one-handed backhand so hard that it launches his feet off the ground. He flies. He’s fast and chases down every ball with the ferocious energy reminiscent of a young Nadal. But the way he skips across the court, skimming the surface, seeking out every offensive opportunity, is a style of play clearly inspired by his favorite player, Federer.
“Growing up, I would always come forward and play aggressive, and my opponents would just lob over me and hit shots past me. My mom [who is also his coach] was constantly telling me, ‘Don’t worry, one day you’ll grow and you’ll be able to get these balls. Keep coming to the net, keep being aggressive.’ So a lot of my style came from my mom.”