What's Shapovalov's Top Priority?
#NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov is just 19 years old, but he has already accomplished plenty in his career. The World No. 25 is the youngest player in the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings, he has reached two ATP Masters 1000 semi-finals, won nearly $2.5 million in prize money and more.
But after advancing to the quarter-finals of the Open Sud de France on Thursday, the teenager admitted his sights are set on one goal for now.
“Definitely winning an ATP title is my first priority, my biggest priority,” Shapovalov said. “It’s something me and my team are working very hard towards and I think it’s definitely achievable if I’m playing really good tennis and if all the stars align. That’s definitely the first goal.”
While Shapovalov has won 40 tour-level matches since the start of 2018, he is not just waiting to lift his first trophy, but also to make his first final. The Canadian has proven his level, earning seven victories against opposition inside the Top 20. But he is still pushing for his first tournament triumph.
“Honestly I’m just trying to enjoy myself. Just putting the work in every day, trying to get better, so that a couple years down the road I can really [compete] to win majors and push these top guys out hopefully once and for all,” Shapovalov said, cracking a laugh. “At the end of the day, I just [want to] enjoy myself. It’s a fun journey. It’s been a long one, but I definitely have a lot of years ahead of me so I’m trying to just enjoy my time around here.”
Shapovalov was one of five #NextGenATP players to reach the third round of the Australian Open. He took particular inspiration from watching Stefanos Tsitsipas battle to his maiden major semi-final, while Frances Tiafoe advanced to his first Grand Slam quarter-final.
“It’s always great to see the young guys doing well and Frances, in particular. He’s a really good buddy of mine. He’s got such a great heart, such a good personality. I was texting him after every match, just so pumped to see him doing well,” Shapovalov said. “It’s definitely motivating to see these guys doing well. It shows you that I’m right there with them. I’ve beaten both these guys and I know my game is capable to be with these guys.”
A reporter in Bulgaria asked Shapovalov whether he believes he can crack the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings. While Shapovalov’s short-term goal is to win his first title, that may be the next step in his progression.
“I think with my game, I do have the potential to get there,” Shapovalov said after a pause. “I believe in myself that I’m able to actually get there, maybe even this year. But honestly I think I just have to go at my own pace.”