Denis Shapovalov says French Open goals have not changed despite impressive clay court campaign

Denis Shapovalov insisted there is no immediate change in his goals ahead of the French Open, despite a hugely impressive series of performances during the clay court campaign.

The 19-year-old lost 6-4 6-1 to 16-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in the Italian Open third round on Thursday, after reaching the semi-finals at the Madrid Masters last week.

Shapovalov, who will become the new Canadian No 1 next week, continues to make huge strides in his burgeoning career and could be a threat at Roland Garros later this month.

“No, honestly, I still have no change of mind,” Shapovalov said, about his expectations ahead of the second Grand Slam of the season.

“I had two good weeks on this surface. Obviously, hopefully I can do well. If I don’t, if I go out first round then, you know, I’ll be fine with it.

“I’m already way past what I thought I could do this season on this surface.

“Whatever extra I can give for the French, would be unbelievable. It would be a huge bonus. But it’s not like I’m expecting anything unbelievable for myself.”

Shapovalov acknowledged the exertions of back-to-back three-set victories at Rome’s Foro Italico had caught up with him against Nadal, but conceded he didn’t believe the result of the encounter would have been any different.

“I definitely wish I was a bit fresher – it’s been a long two weeks. I didn’t feel like super, super dead out there but I felt like I could have been fresher. Maybe that could have been a little bit of a help to me,” he said.

“The first set was extremely tough. We had some long games. You’re gonna have these games with Rafa, and you have to be there every point.

“I don’t think it would have changed the match much today. He played extremely well.”

The world No 29, who described grass as his favourite surface despite his victories on clay this season, said he is “open-minded” about where he might enjoy future success.

“The good thing about being 19 is that I’m open-minded. I’m open to try and get better on a surface; to learn how to play here, how to play there,” Shapovalov said.

“I’m really happy with my success this season on clay. I never expected to get this far in these tournaments. Really happy with my efforts, my fighting.

Highlights of the clash between Rafael Nadal and Denis Shapovalov in Rome

“So, you know, why not? Maybe sometime in the future I’ll love clay, maybe. I don’t know, maybe it’ll be my favourite surface.

“Historically, lefties have done really well on this surface. So, I feel if I can keep learning how to play on it, if I could keep getting better on it, maybe one day it will be a really effective surface for me.”

The Masters 1000 Series continues with our coverage of the ATP Italian Open on Sky Sports Arena from 11am on Friday.

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