Shapovalov: 'My Game Just Elevated'
Canadian Denis Shapovalov revealed that he used the experience he gained from his quarter-final defeat to Pablo Carreno Busta at the US Open last September to his advantage on Wednesday, as he overcame Karen Khachanov to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon.
The 10th seed had won the fourth set 6-0 in New York last year. Shapovalov almost mirrored this on Wednesday, claiming the fourth set 6-1 against the Russian. While he felt his level dropped in the fifth set at Flushing Meadows, he raised it against Khachanov at SW19.
“I think going into the fifth set today was exactly what I took. I was in a similar position against Carreno Busta at the US Open. I won the fourth set really easily,” Shapovalov said. “It kind of allowed myself to just, like, relax a little bit and think that everything's under control, that I have momentum. Then things kind of turned quickly.
“So, I knew going into the fifth set I've got to leave everything I have on the court for every single point that I play. I really felt like I was really in every single return, every single shot. That's the difference I made.
“After the fourth set, I told myself, just using that experience from the US Open, this is what I want to change and really start the set off well. I think my game just elevated. It's something to be super, super proud of myself for.”
Shapovalov, who became just the second Canadian man, along with Milos Raonic (2014, 2016), to reach the semi-finals at Wimbledon in the Open Era, was delighted with his performance levels on No. 1 Court in the big moments.
“I knew in the fourth and fifth, I have to dictate myself and be aggressive. Otherwise, he was going to win the match. It comes pretty naturally to me,” Shapovalov said. “I've always been an aggressive player. I've always wanted to go for shots.
“I knew I had to serve big as well. I think the fifth set is where I served the best, to be honest. My percentage for sure raised. The speed of my serves was much faster. I think it was a real tough battle out there. It took a lot out of me, but super, super proud of myself.”
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The 22-year-old will next face top Novak Djokovic on Centre Court on Friday in a bid to extend his run further and reach a maiden Grand Slam final.
Shapovalov feels that while it will be tough, he has nothing to fear ahead of his meeting with the five-time Wimbledon champion and feels physically strong.
“Definitely a super difficult match ahead of me. I believe in my game. I think I've been playing really, really good tennis. To beat these players with the way I've been playing, it's not easy to do,” Shapovalov said. “So, I have full belief in myself and in my game that I'm able to win on Friday.“I think when you're at the semi-finals of a tournament, there's not really underdogs. Honestly, it's been great. Even today when I played the fifth set, I felt super, super fresh. I feel fresh now. Hopefully, that continues.”