After a few months of difficult performances, Denis Shapovalov has decided to take a break from tennis in order to rest his body and his mind. The Canadian is back to competition at the Coupe Rogers, in Montreal, and admits that he has found his mojo back.
Upon arriving in Montreal, Denis Shapovalov has been in a rough patch. Since his semifinals appearance in Miami (he lost to Roger Federer), the 20-year-old has won only two matches for nine defeats, the latter including the last four matches he played.
For Montreal will be his first event since his first-round loss in Wimbledon, after having taken a few weeks away from tennis.
“I just took some time off from tennis, went to Niagara Falls, went downtown Toronto. I just chilled, went to the arcade, stuff like this. I went from being a tennis player to a bit of a teenager, or a young adult, whatever. I just took my mind completely off it for about two weeks.
“After that, towards the end, I kind of felt like I really wanted to be back on the court. I really wanted to be training and that’s when I knew it was time to start again.
“Ever since I’ve been back, I’ve been really motivated to get back to my top level.
“In the last couple of days of practice, I felt really good and I felt really close to that.”
– Denis Shapovalov
Listening to the Canadian, to his introspection, we could feel the change in his mindset from the last few months, and sense more rest and positivity, which bodes well not only for the coming week, but also for the coming stretch on hard courts.
“Finding that spark again”
If, in the end, Shapovalov did not seek professional help to go through his mental issues, it does not mean that he did not do any work on himself. “The important thing for me was just to figure for myself what’s going on”, he said. “I talked to people closest to me and just tried to figure out what’s not there that used to be there.”
“Honestly, my game’s been there. It’s been there the whole season. I’ve been playing good, playing really well at practice, beating a lot of top guys.
“So it’s not so much about the game; it’s been something inside. Ever since Miami, I didn’t really have the longest break. I had a quick turnaround to go to Europe so I didn’t have time to rest and regroup for the clay court season.
“Then it just kind of spiralled. You get a couple of tough draws, a couple of tough matches that don’t go your way, and suddenly your confidence is down and it’s a lot tougher to win.
“The important thing for me was to take a break.
“Now I feel very good and very fresh and I found that spark again, that reason why I want to be on the court, why I want to play. I’m really excited to be back and to be training.
“For me, that was the most important thing. It wasn’t like trying to figure something out. It was just trying to find that passion for the sport and why I’m putting the hours on court. Once I took a break I realised how much I miss it and how much I want to be back. Now I’m ready to play. I didn’t matter, honestly, who I was going to go up against here in Montreal. I’m just excited to be playing the tournament, to be playing another match, give it all I got, and just play for every point.”
– Denis Shapovalov
Too much, too quick for Shapovalov?
With all that happened in the last few months, and in the last couple of years, was is too much, too quick for Denis Shapovalov? Or did he really just need a break? At this question from BATennis World, he laughed: “No, I just needed a break.”
Then he added, more seriously:
“I had a very good spring, very good Indian Wells and Miami tournaments. Honestly, after that, my body was beat up. I was mentally done. I needed a break. It was my decision, my mistake, to go and play Monte Carlo what feels like one week after. It was just such a short turnaround. It wasn’t like I regretted it or anything or I hated to play the tournament, I still enjoyed it. But it wasn’t the same me. I wasn’t there 100% committed to every practice like I usually am. I was still working, but that spark wasn’t there. I really feel like it’s back, now. I really enjoy my time on the court. It’s just something I had to figure out for myself. I think I play really well when I’m fresh, when I’m mentally ready, but as soon as I get drained a little bit, I’m not all there and it’s tougher for me.”
Did we mention that Denis is extremely mature and introspective for his age? Because he really is. All the quotes in this piece are uncut.