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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday March 16, 2021

Traveling the ATP Tour and playing out of bubble after bubble has been taking its toll on Denis Shapovalov. The Canadian, who defeated Jan-Lennard Struff 6-1, 6-3 on Tuesday in Dubai to reach the third round, says he is actually altering his playing schedule just to ensure that he doesn’t burn out.

Tennis Express

He says he pulled out of Rotterdam in the first week of March just so he could avoid the stress of playing tennis in lockdown mode.

"I've been trying to stay out of the bubble as much as possible, after Australia I felt like it took a toll on me, so I went to Dubai actually just to practice and just kind of relax, pulled out of Rotterdam just because I didn't feel ready,” he told reporters during his post-match press conference, adding: “I am trying to play as few tournaments as possible, and sometimes new tournaments like this for sure help, because it is something new, it doesn't feel like a routine."

Shapovalov, who is making his Dubai debut this year, says that playing in a new event is another way that he can combat the doldrums during a time in which many players struggle with the loneliness and fatigue they face due to coronavirus restrictions, and the anxieties that come with travelling the globe during such a risky time to do so.

"It's something to look forward to, when you play new tournaments,” he said. “I feel like it is more interesting because everything is new, the courts, the restaurant, it's a new experience, it's like playing for the first time and for sure it's a little bit easier for myself."

Shapovalov says he won’t hesitate to continue to trim down his schedule if conditions on tour don’t change. It doesn’t mean he’s not excited to play, he just wants to be more selective and sure that he’s ready emotionally to compete when he does play a tournament.

"Yeah, I definitely don't want to play too much this year if it's going to be a bubble life, because is extremely difficult mentally to be locked up like this,” he said. “Of course it's amazing to play but as the weeks go on you kind of lose that passion for tennis and a lot of players are struggling with that so we are trying to take the approach of just kind of minimizing that as much as possible and just enjoying every match that I do go out and play this year."

Shapovalov, 21 years old and ranked 12 in the world, will face Hubert Hurkacz in third-round action at Dubai. Now that he’s found a comfort zone at the Duty Free Tennis Championships, he’ll try to stay for as long as he can.