“I’m a huge, huge fan of his” – Shapovalov looks ahead to tough battle with Alcaraz

The Canadian is through to the third round in Paris for the first time where a first meeting against Alcaraz awaits him

Carlos Alcaraz at 2023 Roland-Garros Carlos Alcaraz in action during his second round match at Roland Garros 2023 Image Credit: AI/Reuters/Panoramic

Denis Shapovalov and Carlos Alcaraz will be rivals on court on Friday but that did not stop the Canadian left-hander from admitting that he is a big fan of the top-ranked Spaniard.

Shapovalov defeated Matteo Arnaldi in four sets on Thursday to reach the third round of Roland-Garros, the first time he has won back-to-back matches since the Australian Open in January.

That set up an intriguing first career showdown against Alcaraz, the reigning US Open champion and world No 1, who Shapovalov described as ‘a great guy’.

“First of all, I’m a huge, huge fan of his. I think he wears the shirt on his sleeve really well. I think he’s a great guy. He’s super humble for achieving what he has at such a young age,” Shapovalov said. “You can see how much he enjoys being on the court and the situations that are coming forward to him. You know, he’s not in an easy spot being No. 1 and so young and so much noise around him. I really look up to him. I think he is also just a nice guy. In the locker rooms he’s always saying hi. He’s always been polite since he came onto the scene. I think he has a great team around him. Everyone around him knows the tour really well.”

Alcaraz also needed four sets on Thursday to beat Japan’s Taro Daniel but Shapovalov nonetheless expects a tough battle.

“It’s going to be a challenge. It’s going to be a tough battle. Obviously, he’s a great player, especially on clay courts, obviously everywhere, but especially on clay courts. Three out of five is not going to be easy against him, but I’m looking forward to it,” the Candian said.

“I just need to focus on myself and try to do the best. I think the results come on their own.” – Shapovalov

Coming back from a knee injury, Shapovalov has won back-to-back matches for the first time since January’s Australian Open and is also through to the third round in Paris for the first time in his career as well.

“Honestly, going into this tournament I didn’t really know what to expect. I was barely playing any tennis, just trying to see how the knee is this week and try to play as much as possible. Yeah, here I am making my best result at the French, so maybe I should practice less (laughing). I’ll give it my all. I’ll see how it is. Hopefully the knee is good tomorrow for the match. We’ll see. It’s nice to put yourself in these situations.”

“For better or for worse, you know, having an injury, it’s obviously not great. But having a week like this week where there’s zero expectations because I’m just coming to see how I am physically, that’s almost when you produce your best tennis, you know, when you play with zero expectations. So that’s kind of a lesson to myself and how I have to kind of keep going. Not think too much, okay, because I’m playing well or I have a certain result, now I need to keep it up. But I just need to focus on myself and try to do the best. I think the results come on their own.”

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