Denis Shapovalov 'friends' with 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, speaking after his first-round defeat at the Nottingham Open, 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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