Denis Shapovalov Praises New Coach Delgado After Australian Open Win - UBITENNIS
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Denis Shapovalov Praises New Coach Delgado After Australian Open Win

The tennis star explains his decision to switch coaches at the end of 2021.

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Denis Shapovalov (CAN) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

It is still early days but Denis Shapovalov is excited to see what the future holds for him and his collaboration with coach Jamie Delgado.

The world No.14 began his Australian Open campaign on Monday with a grueling four-set encounter against Laslo Djere which he won 7-6(3), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(3), after more than three hours of play. It was by no means a perfect start for the Canadian who produced a total of 68 unforced errors compared to 39 winners. However, he isn’t too concerned about the performance as he praised the Serbian world No.51.

“I don’t think it was actually bad tennis. I think we both played at a really high level,” Shapovalov told reporters. “It was tricky. I thought he really brought it today. I’m definitely happy to get the win. He definitely made me work for it. So I’m super happy about that.’
“I think the level was pretty high, especially at the important moments. We were playing some great tennis. We weren’t really giving each other much.”

After winning his first ATP Cup title last week, Shapovalov is now hoping to make a breakthrough at the Australian Open where he is yet to reach the second week. In his four previous appearances, he has reached the third round twice. His win over Djere was just the sixth he has ever achieved at the Grand Slam.

Tasked with overseeing Shapovalov’s progression in Melbourne is British coach Delgado. A former player who is best known for his work with Andy Murray which started in 2016 and ended just last year. Shapovalov had previously been working with Mikhail Youzhny but both decided to go their own ways.

“It was very mutual,” he explained. “We still text and we continue to have a good relationship, but it just wasn’t working. Both of us weren’t achieving what we wanted to. Unfortunately that’s the business of tennis sometimes. It’s super tough. Just had to go in a different direction.”

Making the change has so far been a good experience for Shapovalov who is full of praise when it comes to his new mentor. Even though their partnership was only officially announced last month. The two spoke with each other on the phone several times before deciding to join forces.

“It’s definitely been really great with him. Obviously it’s very early on but I think the few things that we’ve implemented into the game have been great,” said Shapovalov.
“I do feel like we understand each other really well. The whole team actually is working really, really well. Everyone’s communicating.’
“I think he’s doing a good job of implementing that and staying on top of everything. It’s definitely looking good with him.”

Shapovalov’s next test in Melbourne will be against South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo who edged out Denmark’s Holger Rune in five sets in his first round match. In his section of the draw, the 22-year-old could then potentially play the big serving Reilly Opelka in the third round followed by a showdown with Alexander Zverev.

“It’s not like there’s only one guy you can lose against. There’s a lot of tricky opponents,” Shapovalov concluded of the draw.

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Rafael Nadal To Play Laver Cup In Berlin

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Rafael Nadal has eased speculation that he might be retiring from the sport soon after signing on to play in the Laver Cup later this year. 

The 22-time Grand Slam champion is the latest player to join the line-up for this year’s team competition which features Europe taking on the rest of the world over three days. It will be Nadal’s fourth appearance in the competition and his first since 2022. He competed in the inaugural edition of the event back in 2017 alongside co-founder Roger Federer. 

“I am very happy to be playing Laver Cup in Berlin for Team Europe,” Nadal said in a press release. “I have some really special memories from my Laver Cup experiences, including all the emotions from London two years ago playing alongside Roger for the last time.”

Nadal’s decision to play comes amid questions about his future in the sport. The former world No.1 has previously indicated that this year could be his last on the Tour but he has stated that no decision has been made. In recent months he has been sidelined from action due to injury setbacks and has only been able to play in two tournaments so far this year. 

“At this stage in my career I really want to go out there and make the most of every opportunity I am given,” he explains.
“Teaming up is always an incredible experience and I have always enjoyed it, the competition is different and exciting. I’m looking forward to going to Berlin and helping Team Europe win back the Laver Cup.”

Other European players confirmed to be playing are Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev. Meanwhile, Alex de Minaur, Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul have agreed to play for Team World. This year’s event will be held in Belin at the Uber Arena between September 20-22. 

The Laver Cup was inspired by golf’s Ryder Cup. It was co-founded by Federer’s Team8 management company (which he formed with agent Tony Godsick), businessman Jorge Paulo Lemann and Tennis Australia. In 2019 it became an official ATP sanction event and now has a place on the official calendar. 

Nadal is set to return to competitive action at the Madrid Masters which he has won on five previous occasions. He has been drawn to play teenage wild card Darwin Blanch in the first round. If he wins, Nadal will then play Alex de Minaur who knocked him out of the Barcelona Open last week. 

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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