Australian Open: Denis Shapovalov channels Rafael Nadal mentality in gruelling first-round match

Denis Shapovalov was forced to dig deep in his Australian Open opener as he came out on top in a four-set clash with Serbia’s Laslo Djere.

It took the Canadian just under three-and-a-half-hours to complete the 7-6 6-4 3-6 7-6 win and book his place in the second-round of the Grand Slam.

Shapovalov, who has been forced into three-hour battles in his last two Australian Open openers, was pleased with his performance.

He said: "I feel like every time I come here, the first match is so long. It was definitely great tennis from both of us. He did a great job to come back from two sets to love. He changed his tactics, tried to go for it more and it was very tricky.

"I just kept fighting, I'm very happy with my effort. I felt like the fourth set was slipping away from me a little bit after having that match point. [I] just stayed in it, tried to do everything I could and I'm very happy with the outcome."

The world number 14 was then asked about mentality and revealed his ambition of emulating Rafael Nadal's attitude in games where not everything goes his way.

He added: "It's something that's been a work in progress. It's easy to get upset with yourself especially having a slow start or something.

"But I think me and my team have done a good job with working on that, just fighting and having a 'Rafa' mentality and playing every single point. Just fighting for everything."

Shapovalov was asked about his coaching situation and confirmed that he is currently working with Andy Murray's former coach, Jamie Delgado.

Denis Shapovalov of Canada in action during their Mens singles match against Laslo Djere of Serbia on Day 1 of the Australian Open tennis tournament, at Melbourne Park, in Melbourne, Monday, January 17, 2022.

As well as the Brit, the 22-year-old is also in contact with former Australian Open doubles champion Jonas Bjorkman. The Swede is currently coaching Shapovalov's girlfriend, Mirjam Bjorklund.

Shapovalov said: "Jamie is my coach. He was with Andy for many many years. Definitely a great add. Just overall a great guy. It's very early on for us but we definitely have connected and clicked really well.

"Jonas is actually the coach of my girlfriend so he's helping her out, but obviously it's always great to have a chance to talk to a guy like Jonas and Jamie, so there's been some awesome dinners."

The Canadian will return to court on Wednesday when he takes on South Korea's Kwon Soon-woo.

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