Novak Djokovic lifted his 20th Grand Slam title and third Major of the year at Wimbledon last month. The Serb defeated seventh seed Matteo Berrettini in the summit clash, two days after getting past Canada's Denis Shapovalov in a nervy semifinal.
Djokovic beat Shapovalov in straight sets but he was far from dominant during the match. After withstanding a stiff challenge from Shapovalov in the first and second sets, he eventually prevailed 7-6(3), 7-5, 7-5.
Speaking ahead of the 2021 National Bank Open in his home country, Denis Shapovalov recalled his effort against the World No. 1 in glowing terms. The Canadian claimed he was playing at a level high enough to win the title, and that he might have done so if not for Novak Djokovic.
"I showed everyone that I can play against any player. I had a great game against Djokovic," Shapovalov was quoted as saying by Punto de Break.
"I felt that my game was really at the level necessary to reach the final and even be able to lift the title," he added. "But in front of me I had a player of the stature of Djokovic who, although he does not always play at his best level, he can come out victorious because he has that winning aura of great champions."
Denis Shapovalov went on to highlight the confidence that the Wimbledon run has given him. The 22-year-old believes he can now challenge any player in the world under any conditions.
"At Wimbledon I confirmed it (high level) by playing a great role and staying very close to reaching the grand final," Shapovalov said. "I feel like a player with a lot of self-confidence. I feel that at the moment I can compete against anyone on any surface."
Denis Shapovalov will take on wither Yoshito Nishioka or Frances Tiafoe in the second round of the Toronto Masters this week. The Canadian's only match since Wimbledon, in the Round of 16 at Gstaad, ended in a shock defeat to World No. 249 Vit Kopriva.
Novak Djokovic to return directly at the US Open after Olympics disappointment
Novak Djokovic announced on Monday that he would be sitting out the Cincinnati Masters next week. The Serb will not be able to defend his title in the American midwest this year since he hasn't yet recovered from the injuries and fatigue he picked up at the Tokyo Olympics.
Djokovic will now return to the the tour directly at the US Open, where he will look to become the first male player since Rod Laver (in 1969) to win the Calendar Slam.
The 34-year-old was on the cusp of history at the Tokyo Olympics too, where he was attempting to become the first ever men's player to complete the Calendar Golden Slam. But he was defeated by eventual champion Aleander Zverev in the semifinal, and later by Pablo Carreno Busta in the bronze medal match.
Novak Djokovic then withdrew from the mixed doubles bronze medal match, thus leaving Tokyo empty-handed.
Novak Djokovic will now go head-to-head with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to in the race to take the lead in the all-time Slam tally. The trio are tied at 20 Major titles apiece, but given his age and recent record, the Serb is the overwhelming favorite to come out on top.