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Denis Shapovalov has his sights set on the Top 150 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.

Shapovalov Talks Training With Günter Bresnik And Next Gen ATP Finals

Canadian teen is looking to build on a breakthrough 2016 campaign

At age 17, Denis Shapovalov was hoping to merely get his feet wet on the pro circuit, as he entered his first ATP Challenger Tour and ATP World Tour events in 2016. The Canadian phenom got much more than he anticipated, submerging himself in a whirlwind campaign that culminated in a year-end No. 250 in the Emirates ATP Rankings - a stunning 880-spot rise from the start of the year.

The youngest player in the Top 300, Shapovalov cut his teeth against the game's elite. The first player born in 1999 to win a Challenger match, he reached the semi-finals on home soil in Drummondville in March and advanced to the last four once again in Gatineau in August. Also a three-time Futures titlist and junior Wimbledon champion, Shapovalov gained experience at all levels and on all surfaces in 2016.

The Canadian's breakthrough moment came at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Toronto, where he introduced himself to the tennis world with one of the biggest upsets of the year over World No. 19 Nick Kyrgios. Although his career is in its nascent stages, Shapovalov has set ambitious goals for himself in 2017 as he looks to continue soaring. He sat down with ATPWorldTour.com at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Canberra...

Where did you spend your offseason and who did you train with?
I went to Tenerife (Spain) and spent it with Günter Bresnik, Dominic Thiem's coach. Philipp Kohlschreiber was there, Jerzy Janowicz, Dennis Novak and Dominic too. There were a bunch of good players and I'm starting to work with Günter now, so I had a few good weeks there. It was a great experience for me, because I'm not used to hitting with guys that are Top 10, Top 20. It was a lot of fun for me and I think it helped bring my game to the next level.

Was there anything in particular you focused on?
I was working a lot on my forehand with Günter. He was very technical with my finish. We were there for four hours each day just smacking forehands around and really focusing on it. It's been a big improvement in my game.

Have you thought about the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan and do you think you'll qualify?
Of course I'd like to go, but I think I'm a long way from it. It's going to involve a lot of work, but it would be a great experience for me to go and test my level against the top players 21 and under. I hope I get there, but I'm focusing on one week at a time.

Looking back on 2016, how would you assess the season?
Last year was pretty incredible for me. I think anyone would wish to have a year like I did, winning three Futures titles, Wimbledon juniors, beating Kyrgios at the Rogers Cup, making a couple semi-finals at Challengers, it was incredible. It's tough to maintain that but I hope to do the same this year and even better.

What's been the main difference between playing in Challengers and Futures?
In the Futures there are a couple guys who are pretty good, but in Challengers every match is difficult and everyone is tough. You really have to fight through it and be prepared.

Have you set any Emirates ATP Rankings goals for 2017?
I would like to be in the Top 150 at the end of the year. This is a transition year for me. It's my first full year as a pro. I'm not playing any junior events. At the same time, I'm changing my strokes, like I did with my forehand and a couple other things. It's going to take some time for my game to click, so it's tough to have any high expectations at the moment.

Talk about playing here in Canberra. Are you enjoying the tournament?
It's incredible, one of the best Challengers I've been to. The accommodations are unbelievable. There are eight guys in the Top 100 playing this tournament and that's very big for a Challenger. I'm very excited to be here.