Former coach full of pride as Denis Shapovalov advances to first Grand Slam semifinal

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A coach who used to train Canadian tennis star Denis Shapovalov expressed immense pride on Wednesday as his former student advanced to his first Grand Slam semifinal.

Shapovalov posted a 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 win over Russia's Karen Khachanov at Wimbledon and moved into the final four at the tournament.

Adriano Fuorivia, who trained Shapovalov for five years before he won the junior Wimbledon title in 2016, said his former student is exactly where he's supposed to be.

"I'm always a believer in his game and how far he can go," Fuorivia said in an interview on Wednesday. "Denis's best game can beat anybody."

Shapovalov's previous best performance at a Grand Slam was at last year's U.S. Open, where he reached the quarterfinals.

Fuorivia said the 22-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., is a humble and strong player with great potential.

"He trained super hard, and committed his life to the sport early on, but he remains down to earth to this day," the coach said.

Shapovalov faces top seed Novak Djokovic in the semifinals on Friday. Djokovic is looking for his third straight Wimbledon title and sixth overall.

"He's the best player in the world but anything is possible,'' Shapovalov said of Djokovic in his post-match interview. "When you look at the scoreboard first thing on Friday it's going to be 0-0. Nothing else matters.''

Djokovic called Shapovalov one of the leaders of the next generation of tennis stars.

"It seems like he's maturing,'' Djokovic said. "You would expect that from a player like him that has really an all-around game."

The CEO of Tennis Canada said Shapovalov was a determined player who works hard for his wins.

"Denis is the kind of guy who says, let me earn it. So if I have to go through a 19-time grand slam champion, Novak Djokovic, to make the finals, then I have to go through that door," Michael Downey said in an interview on Wednesday.

Downey said Shapovalov's success was inspiring tennis fans across the country, particularly younger ones.

"There are hundreds of thousands of kids in this country right now waiting to tune in on Friday," he said. "Many are probably hitting a ball today, hoping to be like Denis, and I know they will be cheering him on."

Montreal's Felix Auger-Aliassime missed a chance to join Shapovalov in the semifinals at Wimbledon after losing on Wednesday to Italy’s Matteo Berrettini.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 7, 2021.

Rhythm Sachdeva, The Canadian Press

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