"For me, the goal was just to stay inside the top 50. To be able to finish the year-end at no. 27, it's huge for me...next year hopefully I can keep growing and keep improving my ranking", Denis Shapovalov said realistically as he adjusted his signature cap backwards on his head.
But he's put together a huge recipe of great playing performances even as a junior to see the light of gaining crowns at the end of a beautiful tunnel. At 13, he won his first junior singles title at Burlington, Ontario and with hard diligent work a few years later in 2015, won his first junior Davis Cup title for Canada with Felix Auger-Aliassime and Benjamin Sigouin.
Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov again combined their magic strategies to win the U.S. Open Junior Doubles title. But this was just the beginning for the Canadian who believed in himself to accomplish anything and everything with time, patience and diligence to get the job done.
The grand slams are a big important part of the professional tennis tour and in 2016, Shapovalov took into account his speed, agility and perfect tactics to win his first Wimbledon Junior singles title over Alex DeMinaur.
"I started off making a lot of errors in the first couple of games...after I got broken the second time I told myself 'calm down a little bit' started making some longer rallies and by the end of the first set, I gained my confidence back.
I was ready to go in the second..." Shapovalov was more than stunned when in 2017 he defeated Juan Martin del Potro and then Rafael Nadal at the Canadian Open as well as Nick Kyrgios. "I know I can compete with these guys", the young Canadian had eagerly said after his victories.
But other reasons why Shapovalov may be bracing himself for titles this coming 2019 season are many. One is that he dismantled the Greek Stefano Tsitsipas at the Australian Open first round and then his first time at Delray Beach Open made it to the semifinals.
Later were the wins over Kei Nishikori, then Dominic Thiem at the Mexican Open. The Miami Open he was able to get wins over the veteran Sam Querrey and the NextGen Borna Coric. It really isn't any pattern as to ranking or status who and how Shapovalov can devour his opponents' game and with the Madrid Open Benoit Paire, Milos Raonic, a fellow Canadian and the Brit Kyle Edmund could not squeeze out a win over the young, spirited Canadian.
These wins is what pushed him to the top 30s, leaving him just as astonished as his opponents as to how he did it. The wins over the spicy play of Fabio Fognini at the Rogers Cup didn't leave Shapovalov surprised but encouraged to keep pushing.
Denis Shapovalov has defeated the top five, ten and 20 players in the world. He's came back from a lost set to crawl back and win matches and his confidence and self-assurance is surging along with the strategies he whips out on the court to be an aggressive player.
Some players who have gotten to the Canadian's place in status has faltered and become exhausted to not go deep in tournaments but this isn't Shapovalov's situation. "Physically I've gotten stronger and mentally I've gotten better...I felt like last year to beat these guys I had to play my best tennis.
Now I feel like I'm just playing good..." But for the Canadian, he wants to perfect his game, conquer his opponents and still have a good relationship with his comrades. He should surely capture his first title in the coming season and clarifies that "...If I'm playing my solid tennis game I'm able to probably beat them and be tight with them".
This is Denis Shapovalov's philosophy and it looks hopeful that he'll be putting the plan into effect.