Denis Shapovalov believes he can beat reigning champion Novak Djokovic to secure a place in the Wimbledon final, declaring: “Anything is possible.”
It was super tough, especially not converting 0-40 in the fifth set. I told myself play every point as hard as you can in the fifth. Luck was a bit on my side but it was also a great week from Karen, we both deserved it today. Denis Shapovalov
The big-hitting Canadian tenth seed came from behind to overpower Karen Khachanov 6-4 3-6 5-7 6-1 6-4 to secure his first Grand Slam semi-final spot and a showdown with the tournament favourite.
And, with Djokovic seeing off Marton Fucsovics, Shapovalov said: “Obviously he (Djokovic) is the best player in the world, but I think anything is possible. When you look at the scoreboard first thing it will be 0-0.
“Nothing else matters. It’s a tennis match and it can go either way. I have full belief in myself and my team. Anything is possible.”
Shapovalov stood strong after his 25-year-old Russian opponent wearing a peaked white cap back to front went two sets to one up. And the Canadian believed the courtside fans carried him to victory.
The 22-year-old said to the No.1 Court crowd: “I have to thank you guys. There was so many times I thought Karen was playing too good but you guys kept me going. Thank you so much.
“It was super tough, especially not converting 0-40 in the fifth set. I told myself play every point as hard as you can in the fifth. Luck was a bit on my side but it was also a great week from Karen, we both deserved it today.”
Shapovalov double-faulted and gave away break points early doors against Khachanov but managed to stay strong enough to take the opening set.
Yet the wheels came off the blond bomber, who saw off Britain’s two-time champion Andy Murray in the third round, slipped up in the second and third sets as his bearded opponent world-ranked 29, made him look anything but the cat’s whiskers.
The Canadian, emulating compatriot Milo Raonic’s feat of 2016 before losing the decider to Murray, dug deep with the encouragement of his supporters who have taken him to their hearts after his praise of Murray following his victory over the Scot.
The big-serve and huge forehands of the lad from the Land of the Maple Leaf helped spark his comeback but it was his will to win and self-belief, with the help of the fans, which got him through for his daunting test against world No.1 Djokovic.
And remember, Shapovalov knows what it feels like to be a Wimbledon champion, having taken the boys’ crown the year Murray beat Raonic in the senior competition.
He was one of six new to the last eight at the Championships. Could this be a changing of the guard? Shapovalov clearly thinks so.