Despite a slow start of the season, Denis Shapovalov is still ranked in the top-20, cracking the elite group after reaching the final at Paris Masters in the closing days of the previous season. The Tel Aviv native has been one of the most promising players of the young generation, winning the first Futures title at the age of 16 in 2016 and gathering the first significant results on the Challenger Tour in 2017.
That summer, the Canadian shined at home in Montreal, stunning Rafael Nadal and advancing into the semi-final as one of the youngest players in the Masters 1000 history, cracking the top-100 and reaching the fourth round at the US Open as a qualifier to find himself on the verge of the top-50.
In 2018, Shapovalov delivered more deep runs to enter the top-30, struggling to stay on the winning course after the semi-final in Miami 2019 and recovering his game in the closing events of the season, lifting the first ATP title in Stockholm in October.
Denis was the finalist at Paris Masters and led Canada to the title match at the Davis Cup Finals in November, gathering momentum ahead of 2020 where we are yet to see his best tennis. Speaking for the ATP Uncovered presented by Peugeot, Shapovalov revealed his first tennis years and the struggle to survive on his own without getting any help outside his family that often struggled to provide him everything he needed on his tennis journey.
A couple of years later, Denis is among the best players in the world, not thinking about the financial aspect anymore and enjoying his tennis every time he steps on the court, eager to share his passion with kids in Canada and around the world and motivate them to pick up a racquet as well.
"I want to use my game to inspire more kids that are going their own way, that aren't supported, and show that it's possible to do it on your own if you truly believe and work hard," Shapovalov said to ATP Uncovered presented by Peugeot.
"Hopefully, it can inspire the young generation of Canada to pick up racquets and believe that they can become tennis players while living and training in Canada. I tried to hit the first balls when my mom used to practice with my older brother; for the first bit of time, it was fine because I was swinging and missing.
Soon after, I started to disturb the practice too much and my mom said it was time to start playing if I wanted. I remember waking up at 5:00 or 6:00am to practice before school, training again at 10:00 or 11:00pm and trying to get better, improving some elements of my game often while crying on the court and just putting in everything I had.
My parents and my team put in so much effort because we came from our own way. We didn't get any support and we had to put in all the effort, all the money, everything. We were questioning what we should do because we got to a certain point where I was traveling and we couldn't afford to go to more tournaments.
Still, I always believed in myself, so as my family. When I wake up, my only purpose is to get better and improve something. I'm trying to grow as a player and a person. I want to enjoy where I am in my career. I don't have to worry about finances anymore or what I'm going to do if I don't win this match. My mission is to have fun out there and show the world my game."