Remarkable comeback from injury by Djokovic and Murray wins Shapovalov's admiration

Tuesday, 02 July 2024 at 00:30
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Denis Shapovalov was impressed by the rapid recovery of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray to return to Wimbledon. The Canadian has personally experienced the difficulties of recovering from a long knee injury while he seems to be regaining confidence after an impressive debut against Nicolas Jarry.
After defeating the Chilean, he was asked in a press conference about the recovery of former world No. 1s Djokovic and Murray to return to SW19. Both are preparing to debut on Tuesday at Center Court after complicated injuries that initially seemed to rule them out.

Shapovalov inspired by Djokovic and Murray’s swift returns

The Canadian did not hide his admiration for former champions Djokovic and Murray, who underwent recent surgeries and made rapid recoveries to be present at Wimbledon. Djokovic underwent surgery on his right knee three weeks ago after withdrawing from the French Open in the quarterfinals, while Murray suffered back problems and had surgery just 10 days ago.
However, both 37-year-old players rushed their returns to the court to play at Wimbledon, and Shapovalov praised their effort: “Completely crazy!” said the 2021 semi-finalist. “Huge credit to them for doing what they’re doing. To even try and give it an effort, it’s insane! Especially on top of what they’ve already achieved,” he said.
“I understand if it’s a young guy who doesn’t really know and thinks ‘this is my chance, this is my moment’. But these guys have done it all. So for them to come back and try to play is inspiring for everyone here,” Shapovalov added.
The 25-year-old tennis player recalled his match against Murray in 2021 on his way to the semifinals, which he commented is ‘right at the top’ of his list of memories: “I can remember watching Andy play the match before and rooting for him because that was my chance to play on Centre Court. Then, from the moment walking on that court it hit me differently. It was super special. I got a quick start, then Andy did what he does best. He fought his way back.”
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Shapovalov at 2021 Wimbledon Championship.
“I remember I was up two breaks. He got the first break back and I’m like, ‘okay, here it comes. He’s coming’, Shapovalov added. “I remember I played an unbelievable point to save the second break from happening, then was able to hold on – and play the second set really well as well.
“At which point they take us into the lockers, saying they’re going to close the roof. I was like, ‘oh boy, here Andy comes’. He was definitely in my head quite a lot, playing Andy at Wimby! But that almost took the pressure off me. In the third set I came back even better. It was a special feeling to be on Centre for the first time. To play a legend like Andy was truly special.”

Shapovalov’s great debut win

The former world No. 10 faced a tough knee injury after his exit from Wimbledon in 2023 and missed the entire second half of the season. The long absence left ‘Shapo’ out of the top-100, and since his return this year, he has struggled to regain the consistency needed to return to the elite ranks.
Fortune seems to be changing for Shapovalov, who debuted with a convincing win over 19th seed Jarry, 6-1, 7-5, 6-4. The All England Club seems to be the ideal place for him to regain confidence, having been a junior champion in 2016 and a main draw semifinalist in 2021 at 22 years old. In the second round, he will face German Daniel Altmaier (No. 80), who defeated local wild card Arthur Fery in five sets.

Shapovalov out of Olympic Games

Unfortunately for Shapovalov, his long absence from the Tour in 2023 left him out of the entry list for the Olympics due to his low ranking. Canada will have Felix Auger-Aliassime and Milos Raonic as representatives in the men’s singles and doubles draws.
“The Olympics is something I dreamt of playing when I was a little kid. And obviously still do now. It’s one of the most important tournaments in the world, if not the most,” the world No. 120 said. “But coming back from injury I need to think about the body. Making so many transitions – clay-grass-clay then hardcourt – is not good for the body.
“I’m still needing to work up the rankings. I’ve been given wildcards opportunities to Atlanta and Washington. I need to take those,” he added. “But it’s definitely not an easy decision. I feel I missed out on representing my country in Tokyo and it’s going to be the same thing this year.”
The Canadian already missed the Olympics in 2021 as he chose not to participate due to ‘safety reasons’ amid concerns about COVID. Shapovalov will miss the chance to compete for the gold medal for the second time but remains hopeful of competing in the next Games when he will be 29 years old: “Los Angeles in 2028, hopefully, will be my time.”

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