The young Canadian is viewed as one of the rising stars of the game and he stormed through his first-round match at the Australian Open, beating Spain’s Pablo Andujar 6-2 6-3 7-6 (7-3) to set up a second-round tie with Japan’s Taro Daniel.
Shapovalov warmed up ahead of the tournament beginning with 37-year-old Swiss great Federer, a player he idolised growing up. And the 19-year-old was in awe of the world No. 3 for the raw pace he still possesses. ‘He destroyed me,’ Shapovalov laughed.
‘It was fun. Honestly, every time I’m hitting with Roger, I was like in shock still. Every time I’m talking to him, I’ve spent so many times chatting, he always stops and talks to me. He’s honestly my hero. Every time I see him, I’m still shocked, couldn’t believe it.
‘I was practising with him. It was honestly kind of a proud moment for me. I was like, Wow, my level is there to hit with a guy like Roger Federer and practise with him, you know?
‘So honestly, it was really inspiring for me to be on the court with him. Obviously he’s such a super cool guy. He’s so loose and chitchatting, having a normal practice. For me, I was like, “Oh, my God, oh, my God, I got to hit these shots, have a good practice for Roger”.
‘Yeah, honestly it was great. It’s pretty crazy to see, what is he now, 37, 38 years old? He’s honestly still so fast. Obviously he’s got the best timing. It’s unreal what he can do with the ball.
‘But I never realised how quick he was until we actually practiced a couple days ago. We were playing points. I felt like certain shots I should have had a winner on it. He’s just right there flicking another backhand at me. I felt like he’s constantly at the ball.
‘I think it’s crazy to see how in shape he is, how good he is at his age. It’s honestly something nobody can imagine to do. I can’t imagine myself playing tennis at 37, you know? It’s shocking. But it’s so great to see. Honestly, he’s such a great ambassador for the sport. I don’t think there’s anybody better than him.
‘The way he carries himself, the way he carries himself with other people, it’s not a show. From the day I came to the scene, he’s always made time to talk to me, see how I’m doing, just out of niceness, it’s just the way he is.’