Shapovalov On Heartbreaking Loss: 'I'm A Perfectionist'
Denis Shapovalov played some of his best tennis for three hours and 15 minutes on Sunday evening in the semi-finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, falling just short in a third-set tie-break against Diego Schwartzman.
If Novak Djokovic beats Schwartzman in Monday’s final, Shapovalov will still crack the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time. But the Canadian is not sweating it.
“My time will come whether it's now or later. I think God has a path for me, and obviously today I wasn't meant to win,” Shapovalov said. “But I'm going to keep working, keep improving, and if I don't get there now, then I'll just keep pushing to try to break through to the Top 10.
“I’m only 21, so I'm really happy with having that chance for now, to come that close.”
Schwartzman will be the first-time Top 10 member if he upsets Djokovic. Shapovalov was patient throughout their marathon, waiting for the perfect moment to strike in rallies with his aggressive game. But at the very end of the match, the Argentine was the steadier player.
“Definitely very pleased with myself. Obviously I'm a perfectionist. I expect a lot from myself. Definitely disappointed with today,” Shapovalov said. “Diego's one of the greatest clay-courters out there right now, so it's big for my part to be able to go toe-to-toe against him from the back despite struggling with my serve.
“I think it's shown great improvement from me, and I'm really, really pleased with the way I was able to play.”
Shapovalov struck 10 aces, but hit eight double faults, with a majority of those coming in crucial moments. The 21-year-old lefty was happy that despite only winning 43 per cent of his second-serve points, he was able to hang in with Schwartzman.
“Played a great match today despite not serving nearly as good as I could. I had a chance to win it and [I was] up a break [three times] in the third set,” Shapovalov said. “I'm happy that I was able to almost find a way to win despite struggling with one of my main weapons today.”
What was the big difference in the match? According to Shapovalov, he simply lost a couple key points when it mattered.
“I don't know if there was a key. We were both playing very even tennis off the back, and it was just a couple points. I think it was a great match from both of us,” Shapovalov said. “I feel like we both deserved to win today, so I don't think there was any keys or anything. It was just a couple of points that made the difference.”
Shapovalov will now prepare for Roland Garros, where he has never advanced past the second round. He will certainly have momentum on his side and potentially a Top 10 ranking with it.