First-Time Winner Spotlight: Denis Shapovalov
Denis Shapovalov arrived at the Intrum Stockholm Open with an 0-7 record in ATP Tour semi-finals. But after clearing that hurdle on Saturday with a win over Japanese Yuichi Sugita, he only needed one try to clinch his first ATP Tour title as he defeated Serbian Filip Krajinovic in Sunday’s final. The #NextGenATP Canadian is the 15th first-time winner on the ATP Tour this season.
First-Time ATP Tour Champions In 2019
|Alex de Minaur||19||Sydney|
|Juan Ignacio Londero||25||Cordoba|
|Laslo Djere||23||Rio de Janeiro|
|Reilly Opelka||21||New York|
|Radu Albot||28||Delray Beach|
|Guido Pella||28||Sao Paulo|
ATPTour.com caught up with Shapovalov after the match to talk to him about his triumph.
What does it mean to you to win your first ATP Tour title?
It means a lot to me. My team and I have put in a lot of work over the years and it’s been a pretty big goal of ours to try and lift the title. I’m just super proud of me and my team.
After breaking through with your first ATP Tour final on Saturday, did it feel like a weight had been lifted?
I don’t know about that. I had some bad luck in the other semi-finals and some tough draws, but I knew that I’d win one eventually. Making the semi-finals is still a great result. It’s not easy to do. I stayed pretty patient with that, but I was really excited to win the match and was looking forward to the final.
The clay and grass-court seasons this year were perhaps the most challenging time of your career so far. How did you get yourself back on track and what did you learn from that experience?
It was a tough period for me mentally. I wasn’t completely there after such a big run in Miami and wasn’t fully prepared to be on for the clay-court season. I had a couple of tough draws and wasn’t so fired up to play every match. After Wimbledon, I took some time off and did a little bit of soul searching, found the reason why I enjoyed tennis again. I’ve been playing the sport differently and treating it differently ever since then.
Are short breaks like that something you might do more often in the future?
It helped me a lot. I think it’s important to take breaks every once in a while. You get eager to play as much as possible, but it’s also important to listen to yourself. Once I took that break, I felt like I switched a page and was starting from scratch. I’ve been playing with a different charisma ever since Montreal.
You’ve consistently been having good results since starting to work with Mikhail Youzhny. What has he brought to your game and your team overall?
He’s done amazing. He’s got so much experience over me, been on Tour for so long and achieved some great things in his career. Just talking to him and having him give his feedback has helped as well. He’s helped me add more variety to my game, added a little bit more chip, and that really helps with opponents. He’s got a great eye for the game.
Your mom has been a key part of your tennis from the very beginning. What are the benefits to traveling on the road with a parent?
It’s a huge benefit to have her on Tour. My whole career is credited to her. I wouldn’t have lifted up a racquet if it weren’t for her and she knows my game better than any other person in the world, including myself. Especially when I’m not feeling so good, she always finds the one or two things that change the way I’m playing and feeling on court.
Looking ahead to the off-season, do you have anything fun planned before pre-season prep begins?
I haven’t planned anything yet, but I’m hoping to start off in the Bahamas and then head to Florida to train at the IMG Academy.
Tell us something about yourself that your fans may not know.
I’m pretty open with my fans, so I think they know a lot about me…maybe that I hate horror films!
How will you celebrate the win tonight?
Probably just have a nice dinner. I can’t celebrate too much because I have another tournament coming up [in Vienna], but we’ll try to make the most of it.