Denis Shapovalov is known as one of the cleanest ball forwards on the ATP Tour, but where does the world No. 16’s power come from? The 23-year-old, who led Team Canada’s rush to the 2022 ATP Cup alongside Felix Auger-Aliassime, likes to utilize the nutritional value of bananas on court, but he’s not so keen on the taste.
Shapovalov would rather eat a good hamburger, but he admits he wouldn’t cook. Unless it’s eggs…
In this edition of The Tour – Food Court, Shapovalov tells ATPTour.com how he plans his game day meals, his favorite Toronto restaurant and more.
Let’s say you have to cook something, what would you cook for dinner and why?
My gourmet skills lie in scrambled eggs! That’s where my cooking ends, so I’d boil some eggs.
Would you like to try to cook and learn more things?
Definitive. My girlfriend [Swedish WTA star Mirjam Bjorklund] and I keep saying we want to do some cooking classes together, but we don’t have time right now. Definitely later, it’s something we’re both interested in. At the moment I’m only responsible for the omelettes! This is my role.
What’s your guilty pleasure? Would you eat it once in a while or very rarely?
I have to say, probably a good hamburger. I’ll have it from time to time, definitely not during tournaments and such, but when I’m finishing a tournament or when I’m training, definitely. I like going out for a nice burger.
What would you wear to it?
Honestly it’s pretty easy. Obviously ketchup, mustard, tomato, lettuce, pickles, that’s about it. And a good bun, the bun is very important. Just a good Italian or white roll. It has to be of good quality, it has to be fresh. The bun is what makes or breaks it.
Do you eat something in particular the night before a game, or doesn’t it matter that much?
Yes there are a few things. Of course it’s not always the same, but it’s definitely healthier. Either some pasta, some salmon and rice or some sushi. Those are probably the three things I sort of pick.
Probably just salmon avocado or tuna.
Do you have to eat a certain time before the game on game day? do you have a routine
I want at least an hour and a half to digest, so I try to eat two hours before the game. I like to warm up before eating, so I’m going to kind of retrace my day. When to mobilize, when to warm up based on when to eat before my game.
Has your snacking routine changed during a game? Some guys are now eating gels when they used to eat bananas, for example.
For me it was always bananas, unfortunately I hate bananas! My coach Adriano, growing up, told me that having a banana is a big secret of winning. I’ve been following it since that day even though I hate it.
Have you always hated them or do you just hate them because you eat them so often?
I never liked her. I think the hate grew from eating them all the time. So we’ll have bananas in the house all the time, but I’ll never touch them, and I never wanted to.
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Have you ever tried something different?
I was trying to learn more about nutrition and what I could have on the court, gels and stuff like that. But early in my career I got a bit sick with food poisoning from a gel so I went back to bananas!
Some guys have special drinks that they prepare on the pitch. Do you drink or do you only drink water?
I have a few sports drinks that I make, but I’m not really picky about what I use.
How different is your diet in a tournament week compared to a training week?
It is different. Of course, I don’t just run around eating junk food during training weeks, but I’m not that picky during those weeks. I feel like if I just keep up the nutrition I have during tournament weeks… I’ll go insane if I have to do this every week. So I try to give myself some space in the weeks that aren’t so important.
It must be hard to stick strictly to your diet for a long period of time when you haven’t?
Yes, it’s just not my personality, it’s not my style to always follow a strict diet or routine. I’ve always been a little more open minded and enjoy changing food [instead] to get bored. It’s definitely who I am.
Is there a meal from your childhood that you still enjoy?
My mother made some really good dishes, many Russian dishes really good. Mashed potatoes with some breaded chicken – probably not that Russian, but my favorite dish of hers! But for Russian food, Russian dumplings were fantastic.
Does MIrjam cook any Swedish things for you to try?
She cooks like 95 percent of the time. I only make breakfast between the two of us. She makes really good chicken and rice which I really enjoy.
Maybe one day she’ll teach you…
Maybe! She also makes a good steak.
Is there a go-to restaurant that has a meal you like most?
There is one place in Toronto that I always go to. Every time I go there they have the best sliders I have ever had in my life. The restaurant is called Joey’s. Every time I’m back in Toronto I have to visit it.