Ranked 143rd, an 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov reached the semi-final at home Masters 1000 event in Montreal, stunning world no. 1 Rafael Nadal and writing history. The young Canadian wrapped up the next season in the top-30, setting eyes on even higher goals and chasing the first ATP title in 2019.
Following the semi-final in Miami, Denis lost the ground completely, scoring only four victories before Winston-Salem where he started to work with Mikhail Youzhny, advancing into the semi-final there and in Chengdu before finally claiming that first ATP crown in Stockholm.
Using a favorable draw, Shapovalov scored four wins in straight sets to secure the title and get the pressure off his back. Playing with more confidence, Denis advanced into the final at Paris Masters, losing to Novak Djokovic but earning massive 600 points to crack the top-15 ahead of the Davis Cup Finals where he toppled Matteo Berrettini, Taylor Fritz and Karen Khachanov, helping his country to reach the final where they lost to Spain.
Kicking off the 2020 campaign with another team event at the ATP Cup, Shapovalov took down other youngsters Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev, battling hard against Novak Djokovic as well and hoping to find that form again once the season resumes.
"I feel like the closing stages of the previous season were really big for me, a huge step forward. I think it started even before that first ATP title in Stockholm," Shapovalov said. "I took a good break after Wimbledon; Montreal was there to give me motivation and the passion for fighting and playing at my best again.
I thought I would have a chance in Stockholm and I went all the way to claim the title. From there, I felt it was a good weight off my back. There were a couple of tournaments where I lost in the semis and it was huge for me to pass that barrier and eventually lift the trophy.
I played freely in the last couple of tournaments of the season. I had already completed my goal and that allowed me to just enjoy tennis, playing on a very high level in Paris where I had another great run. The entire week was really amazing, beating some high-quality rivals and building my confidence.
My coach Mikhail Youzhny helped me so much on improving the mental side of the game and also on the court itself, pointing out at certain things that really helped me. I made a good start of 2020 as well, keeping my form and beating some rivals from the top-10."