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Shapovalov praises tournament bubble in Dubai

Denis Shapovalov at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. (Supplied photo)
Denis Shapovalov at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. (Supplied photo)

Dubai - Shapovalov also felt that the ATP should look into the matter of prize money

By James Jose

Published: Fri 19 Mar 2021, 8:48 PM

Last updated: Fri 19 Mar 2021, 9:01 PM

Plying their trade on the professional tennis circuit is as tough as it comes with players, quite literally, living out of a suitcase.

Add a full-blown pandemic to it and staying in a bubble for long periods of time, it can be quite excruciating mentally.

And while it has its own positives and negatives, world No.12 Denis Shapovalov spoke in glowing terms about the tournament bubble in the Middle East, especially Dubai.

“I do think Dubai has done an amazing job,” said Shapovalov.

“It is still difficult because you are looking across the pond (at the Aviation Club Tennis Centre) and you’re looking at regular life and it’s still better, but this is one of the best bubbles that we are going to have. Else, it is just hotel rooms and court, and it can get really tough and depressing,” he added.

The Canadian played in Doha last week where he reached the quarterfinals of the Qatar Open and Shapovalov said that the opportunity to go to the beach there was a blessing, especially in these tough times.

“Doha was unbelievable, and we had the beach right there and we could go to the beach,” the 21-year-old said.

Still, he said, it has been difficult to cope with not having a regular life like the others.

“But it’s still the feeling that you don’t have freedom where you can go to a restaurant where there’s people just literally across the pond looking at you and you just can go there and grab a bite. It's just mentally taxing after a while. You can do it for one, two or three weeks but a month, two months in it (bubble) becomes very difficult for you mentally,” revealed Shapovalov.

The bubble life as well as the economic impact on the sport due to the pandemic has meant reduced prize money at tournaments. That has also had a knock-on effect with some of the top players withdrawing from events, and only concentrating on the Grand Slams.

“I’m just playing because I enjoy playing the big tournaments and I’m finding ways to get motivated. I went to Doha and now I’m here and that was something exciting and new. I’m trying not to play a lot and stay out of the bubbles too because it’s mentally very draining and I felt that last year it was depressing to be out there,” he said.

Shapovalov said that his goal of winning tournaments and going up the rankings are reasons that is keeping him going.

“So, there’s ways that I’m trying to cope with it. I’m playing the big tournaments because I like to play them and do want to still achieve certain things like win big tournaments and go up the rankings. But, I think, for the bigger guys it’s not really motivating. They’ve been there, won Masters, won Slams so they don’t have a reason to go and play,” last year’s US Open quarterfinalist, said.

Shapovalov also felt that the ATP should look into the matter of prize money.

“I definitely think there’s going to be a lot of withdrawals and a lot of people not going to tournaments because I do agree the prize money is low and, in a way, it’s not really motivating to play every week and play all the big tournaments just because there not really a lot in it for us other than the Slams.

“Hopefully, the ATP or someone can do something to improve the prize money and bring it back to what it was, but it is what it is right now. We have other obligations from sponsors and contracts that oblige us to play as well but, for sure, that is one of the reasons why a lot of players are still playing otherwise a lot of players would not play at all. I feel other sports have been able to find solutions to keep the prize money and keep their salaries, so I feel there are better ways to solve this problem and go about it from the ATP side,” Shapovalov explained.


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