"It's a really proud moment. It's crazy how far I've come," Denis Shapovalov had said proudly. He had told this to the ATPmedia of his win over Belgium's David Goffin at the U.S. Open quarterfinals.
Little did he know more of the tide would turn in his good fortune when he went to Rome.
He'd play Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov ranked no. 15 in the world.
He holds 8 ATP titles and was on tour for over 10 years. They've played each other twice with Dimitrov coming out on top both times.
Shapovalov didn't see this as an indication of what his fate would be and plowed through to win his first set 6-2 over the aggressively strategic Bulgarian. He was used to having power over top players and through the year proved it by defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas and then Alexander Zverev.
But Dimitrov held steady as both attacked each other's forehands and strategies. Dimitrov won the second set 6-3. This wasn't the last call for Shapovalov who was determined to win the round. He played super-aggressive and smart, jumping to a 4-1 lead allowing the Bulgarian to gain a few more games before he'd won the match 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.
Shapovalov had been under stress to continue doing well after the Open but admits the Pandemic's hiatus of minus the 6 months competitive play wreaked havoc on his game. "..dealing with jet lag and the body fatigue, it's not easy," he'd say.
But he knows he's climbed another level now to his game that will put him into a higher bracket of playing. The young Canadian was just happy to get over this hurdle saying "To get the win it's a big step for me and a big step for my confidence to know I can beat a player of that category..."
At 21, Shapovalov would never believe he'd be nearly on the cusp of rising to the top 10 player in the world and getting past his body conditions. "I'm really happy with the way I've been able to overcome that."
The young Canadian admits he has a ways to go but acknowledges how far he's came. He hope his next match with Diego Schwartzman who it will be the first meeting for both can prove as successful as he's been doing on his matches in Rome.