'We have become good friends' – Shapovalov on umpire he hit with ball

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Shapovalov hits umpire in face and loses Davis Cup tie

Canadian Denis Shapovalov says he has become “good friends” with the umpire he hit in the eye with a ball during a Davis Cup tie against Great Britain.

Shapovalov smashed the ball in anger and struck Arnaud Gabas, who suffered a fractured eye socket.

The 18-year-old was disqualified from February’s match and fined by the International Tennis Federation, which said his actions were unintentional.

“He messages me here and there and I message him,” Shapovalov said.

“He is an extremely nice guy. He has really helped me get through it because he could have been mean about it – but he is a great gentleman, a great guy.”

The Davis Cup World Group first-round tie in Ottawa was poised at 2-2, with Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund leading 6-3 6-4 2-1 in the final match, but Canada’s hopes ended when Shapovalov was disqualified.

He later apologised to Frenchman Gabas in the match referee’s office.

The 2016 junior Wimbledon champion said: “It was very tough at the time, it is still always in the back of my head in everyday life.

“I skipped the next tournament. I didn’t want to get out of bed. The first steps were my mum making me walk the dogs – from there on, things started rolling.

“It has helped me mature as a person. It has helped my game on the court – I stay much more calm, just knowing what could happen if I lose my temper again.

“It was extremely bad luck for me and for the umpire, I know – but he has been a big part of it.

“In a strange way we have become good friends.”



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