“I think online (abuse) is just getting worse and worse”: Shapovalov

Shapovalov speaks about the heckling incident involving Naomi Osaka after his loss to Reilly Opelka in Indian Wells

Canada's Denis Shapovalov during his quarter final match at the Australian Open Canada’s Denis Shapovalov during his quarter final match at the Australian Open Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

ATP Indian Wells Masters 1000 | Results | Schedule

Canadia’s Denis Shapovalov believes the issue of online abuse of athletes by fans is “getting worse and worse” and that players need to learn how to cope with it.

The issue of fan behaviour towards athletes has come to the fore at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells after the heckling incident involving four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka on Saturday evening.

Osaka was heckled by a fan early on during her second round clash against Veronika Kudermetova and broke down in tears before going down 6-0, 6-4. The former world No 1 asked to address the crowd during the match, which was denied by officials, and then spoke to the crowd after the loss during which she broke down once again.

On Monday, the match between Shapovalov and American Reilly Opelka also saw some poor behaviour by a couple of fans with both players asking the chair umpire to remove someone from the stands. Shapovalov went on to lose the match 6-7, 6-4 6-4 to Opelka and later was asked about the issue during his press conference.

“Both (online abuse and heckling from the stands) is brutal. Both is brutal. I think online is just getting worse and worse. In person, I haven’t personally been involved in too many. I think most people that write on Instagram, they don’t actually have the balls to face you up front and tell you something. I think it happens way more on (social) media. That’s difficult and you need to be careful, just kind of not cope with it but find ways to deal with it. Like I said, it’s getting worse and worse. Especially I think for my sake.”

“When you step out on the court and someone says, You suck.. It sucks to hear or feel that”: Shapovalov

Shapovalov said that he can relate to Osaka and added that it was not a good feeling to hear other people criticize them so brazenly.

“It’s a shame because people come out to watch great players like Naomi. I don’t know what the reason was. There’s no use for saying something like that. Like I can relate to Naomi. Not to speak for her, but I think she’s put everything she can into her tennis. When you step out on the court and someone says, You suck, something like that, it sucks. It sucks to hear or feel that. It’s difficult, but unfortunately we need to put up with it because there’s no controlling what other people do and what other people say.”

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