The 20-year-old Denis Shapovalov has been one of the players to beat in the young guns department in the last couple of years, scoring some bigs Masters 1000 wins but missing one important achievement on his tally. Shapovalov had lost the first seven ATP semi-finals he competed at without winning a set, heading to Stockholm as the fourth seed last week and eager to change that and finally make a step forward.
The Tel Aviv native scored four straight-sets victories to go all the way and lift the first ATP title, becoming the second player born in 1999 with an ATP trophy after Alex de Minaur. In the title match, Denis toppled Filip Krajinovic 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 24 minutes, facing only one break point in the entire encounter and stealing rival's serve once in each set to cross the finish line and become the 15th first-time champion on the Tour in 2019.
With these points, Shapovalov has secured his place at the Next Gen Finals in Milan, joining his compatriot Felix Auger-Aliassime, Alex de Minaur and Jannik Sinner, with four more spots left up for grabs. The young Canadian has had some ups and downs so far in 2019 to keep the ranking position he had at the beginning of the season, losing 24 matches but delivering some good wins as well.
He had lost in the third round at the Australian Open to Novak Djokovic before embracing a decent indoor season and the semi-final run in Miami, beating other young guns Andrey Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Frances Tiafoe before a tough loss against Roger Federer in the battle for the place in the final.
That was the last notable result for Shapovalov for the next couple of months, barely winning a match on clay and failing to score any on grass, heading to Winston-Salem with a 4-12 score and eager to change the course of his season.
Denis started to work with a former top-10 player Mikhail Youzhny and the results have been evident so far, reaching the semi-final in Winston-Salem and Chengdu before conquering Stockholm to crack the top-30 again. In the last couple of months, Shapovalov has been playing with more efficiency and a reduced number of errors, finding his 'A game' and hoping to close the season on a high note in Vienna, Paris and Milan.
Denis had the opportunity to play in Milan in 2017, suffering losses against Andrey Rublev and Hyeon Chung to finish the campaign in the round robin stage.