Denis Shapovalov poured his heart and soul into his Wimbledon semifinal clash against Novak Djokovic on Friday. But that wasn’t enough to get him past the finish line, as the Canadian succumbed to a 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-5 loss.
Shapovalov couldn’t control his emotions after the match, and shed a few tears on the court before leaving. The 22-year-old, playing in his maiden Slam semifinal, was left bitterly disappointed at not being able to get the job done despite putting up a very good performance.
Shapovalov earned 11 break point chances against Djokovic and ended the match with just 12 points fewer than the the Serb. But he could convert just one of those break points, which meant he found himself on the losing side despite staying toe-to-toe with Djokovic for large parts of the match.
While speaking to the media after his loss, Denis Shapovalov initially rued the missed chances that prevented him from going ahead. But the Canadian then explained how Djokovic’s experience of playing such matches – as well as a bit of “luck” – helped the World No. 1 come through.
“I had chances in every set so, just went his way,” Shapovalov said. “Obviously he is the No. 1 in the world and he is there for a reason and has obviously played played these kinds of matches many times and (he) has a little bit more experience and probably played a little bit better.”
“Maybe (he was) a little bit lucky, you know, luckier than me today in the bigger moments, and that was it,” he added. “I had a lot of chances, I was dictating my game and I thought he felt it.”
Denis Shapovalov was then asked if he would like Novak Djokovic to be his mentor, given how the Serb paid him rich compliments after the match. Shapovalov answered in the affirmative, joking that Djokovic being his mentor would be especially beneficial since it would mean he was no longer playing on tour.
“Yes I could be very happy if he would be my mentor cause that means he would stop playing (laughs),” Shapovalov said.
According to the Canadian, Djokovic doesn’t get enough credit for the kindness and generosity he shows towards his peers. Shapovalov revealed that Djokovic visited him in the locker room after the match to offer a few words of consolation, which “meant a lot” to the 22-year-old.
“No, definitely he is an incredible guy, I don’t think he gets praised enough,” Shapovalov said. “Even he came out to me in the locker room and said a couple of words to me. For me it means a lot and he doesn’t really have to. He just told me he knows how difficult it is to be right now. He told me that everything will come, you know, it’s something coming from someone like him.”
The southpaw went on to heap more praise on Djokovic, calling him “one of the greatest players of all time”.
“Like I said he doesn’t have to do something like this, so it shows the type of person he is and it’s really nice for someone like me to hear from someone like him,” Shapovalov said. “I have tremendous respect for him. He’s definitely one of the greatest players of all time, it’s awesome to hear those words from him.”
“I felt like the game is there and it’s possible to go and play for the trophy” – Denis Shapovalov
Denis Shapovalov claimed he has a lot of positives to take from his performance against Novak Djokovic, given how close he ran the World No. 1. But Shapovalov also revealed he is heartbroken by the result, as he feels he had it in him to defeat Djokovic and reach the final.
“A lot of things to be proud for myself,” Denis Shapovalov said. “For sure it’s almost good to have a little bit of a taste because it just makes me want it that much more going into the next sSams and into the future. Now I know exactly what I’m capable of and where my game can be at.”
“I think what hurt so much this time was just that I felt like the game is there and it’s possible to go and play for the trophy,” he added. “It’s a feeling I’ve never had before, so that’s why it just hurt so much.”