Shapovalov Ready For ATP Cup: 'I've Always Wanted To Represent My Country'
Denis Shapovalov will join Felix Auger-Aliassime, Steven Diez, Peter Polansky and Adil Shamasdin on Team Canada at the inaugural ATP Cup, held in Australia from 3-12 January. Canada will be competing in Group F in Brisbane, facing Germany, Greece and Australia.
The 20-year-old sits at a career-high No. 15 in the ATP Rankings after a season in which he won his maiden ATP Tour title in Stockholm (d. Krajinovic), reached his first ATP Masters 1000 final in Paris (l. to Djokovic) and made the semi-finals at the Masters 1000 event in Miami.
Shapovalov spoke to ATPTour.com about his fellow Canadians on Tour and why he enjoys being part of a team.
How much fun is it for you playing as part of a team?
It’s so much fun. From the moment I picked up a racquet, I was always watching team events like this. I’ve always wanted to represent my country in a team environment. It’s a different kind of atmosphere and a different kind of competition.
We don’t get to play on a team too much and it’s usually pretty independent, so any time you get to have that bond and represent your country is awesome.
How important is it for an individual sport like tennis to hold team events like the ATP Cup?
I think it’s great to have an event like this, especially at the start of the year... you get to bond with the other guys, as well as the teams from other countries. It’s exciting to have another competition where you get to represent your country.
You’re guaranteed matches [with the format] and don’t have to worry about getting them in before a Grand Slam. The year is just starting, so you can find your balance and work on a couple of things. It’s absolutely perfect.
Who is the funniest player from your country and why?
I think everyone would say Daniel Nestor. He’s a great guy and really fun in the locker room. He’s always chirping everyone on the court. You either love it or you don’t, but I’m a guy who always loved to have him around.
Do you have any great memories of you and your teammates when you were young?
The biggest memory was winning Junior Davis Cup with Felix and Benjamin Sigouin [in 2015]. We were going through it in the locker room, saying how great it was and how we put our hearts on the line the whole week. We were hoping that one day we could do it one day at the pro level... It’s been an unbelievable ride.
If you could build the perfect player using different strokes from other Canadians, who would you pick?
I’d take Milos Raonic’s serve, Nestor’s volleys, Vasek Pospisil’s returns and Felix’s backhand or his physique since he’s so strong and fast.
Which countrymen did you watch growing up and what did you admire about them?
I watched Vasek a lot. I really liked the way he was on court and how it seemed like he was always enjoying himself. He was always really committed to Canada. He’s a guy that I look up to and aspire to be one day.