Denis Shapovalov, came onto everyone’s radar, when he denied Rafael Nadal the opportunity to reclaim the world number one spot, by knocking him out of the Montreal Open back in 2017. On that particular day, Shapovalov, just eighteen years of age, stunned the Spaniard, as he beat him despite dropping the first set. Everybody knew they had witnessed something special, and you could clearly draw a lot of similarities between this match and the one in which Rafael Nadal had burst into the limelight as he beat Andre Agassi back in 2005 in the finals of the ATP masters in Canada.
Denis Shapovalov, who is currently ranked 27 on the ATP singles rankings, says he has idolized both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal throughout his childhood, and has tried to emulate both the legends on the court. Shapovalov, in an exclusive interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, revealed that he has been trying to learn and implement the best of both the players in his game. And indeed it does look like the youngster has both- physical prowess and brute strength, as well as beautiful technique and elegance in his play style.
‘Well, of course Roger Federer, he is a myth for the younger tennis players” said Denis Shapovalov, in his interview. “And then I have the one-handed backhand, I tried to imitate him”, says Shapovalov with a smile. However, he is quick to say that he also watches a lot Rafa’s matches as well, to learn from his physical aspect of the game. “But I have also always followed Rafa (Rafael Nadal) closely as well”, said Denis. “For the strength and the determination he puts on the court.” “And because, like me, he is lefty”, he added.
The youngster has faced Nadal twice in his career so far, and has had the better of Nadal in their first meeting. However, he is yet to face Roger Federer in a match.