Denis Shapovalov is getting used to playing on the clay, and he's picked a pretty good example to learn from—Rafael Nadal.
The 19-year-old Shapovalov is currently ranked No. 43 with runs like reaching the semifinals of Montreal and the fourth round of the US Open. This season, he reached the semis at Delray Beach, though on clay he lost in the first round in Monte Carlo and Budapest.
‘I don’t really have any high expectations for myself on clay. It’s my least favorite surface and I’m still learning,” Shapovalov told Metro and a small group of journalists.
“Honestly, if I get wins, great. But if I don’t then I get experience so either way I’m happy. I told my coaches I really want to get through this season, really grind—win or lose—go back on the court and train. Just to try and keep getting better. For me that’s more important. If I do get better then the results will come. The tricky part for me is not really the movement or anything, it’s just how to implement my game style onto the surface.”
TenniStory - Denis Shapovalov:
Shapovalov has been watching Nadal, with the 10-time French Open winner just capturing two straight clay-court events at Monte Carlo and Barcelona.
“I’ve been trying to pick up a lot from Rafa. It’s great to see him play. I’m trying to pick up on certain lefty things he does that bothers other guys and I definitely think that’s helped me as well," Shapovalov said. “He plays so aggressive on it, when he has a chance he goes for it.”
Shapovalov said in a few weeks, in Paris, he could be better.
“I’m going to go through week in [and] week out grinding on the surface no matter my results and it’s mainly for that purpose so that one day maybe I can be good enough to potentially compete for the title of the French,” he said. “Maybe I will, maybe I won’t but I’m just trying to do everything in my powers to do it.”
Shapovalov's first-round win is his first ATP clay-court victory.