Shapovalov Defeats His Idol In Guadalajara
Canadian on seven-match win streak in Challengers
Most of us don’t get the chance to meet our tennis idols, let alone play them, but #NextGenATP player Denis Shapovalov did one better and defeated him.
The teenager prevailed 6-3, 6-3 in an all-Canadian battle against good friend and second seed Vasek Pospisil at the $50,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Guadalajara, Mexico. Shapovalov remained in control of the baseline rallies throughout their second-round match to advance in 73 minutes.
“It’s similar to when I played Felix Auger-Aliassime in Drummondville. You feel bad after the match because you wish the best for them,” said Shapovalov about playing against a friend. “Vasek just beat Andy Murray the other week, so he easily should be in the Top 50. But when you’re in the match, you’re both trying to win. It was still fun for me to have a chance to see how my game matched up to his.
“Vasek was one of my idols growing up. I always wanted to be like him and play like him,” he added. “To have gotten so close to him on tour and have all the advice he’s given me on and off court, how to manage myself as a player and deal with things, has been really important and helpful for me.”
Shapovalov is riding a wave of confidence after capturing his first Challenger title last week in front of a home crowd in Drummondville, Canada. The 17-year-old stormed through the draw without losing a set and his stellar week pushed him inside the Top 200 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time.
“It’s incredible to have won my first Challenger on home soil. It’s a big confidence boost and I think I’m playing some great tennis,” said Shapovalov. “The first round here in Guadalajara was very tough for me. It’s difficult going from indoor hard courts to outdoor ones, dealing with the wind and the altitude, but hopefully I can keep playing well.”
Next up for Shapovalov in Guadalajara is a quarter-final match against qualifier Lloyd Glasspool of Great Britain. He’s eager to pick up his second Challenger title on Sunday and then begin preparing for the clay-court season.
“It’s been an incredible tournament so far. A lot of people have come out to watch the matches, which is important for me because I love playing in front of people,” said Shapovalov. “It’s a nice city and the venue is amazing, so I’m really happy to be here.”