Is Denis Shapovalov For Real?

Stephen Boughton, Editor

“Denis Shapovalov has the world in front of him.”

Denis Shapovalov is the hottest young star on the ATP tour and in the last couple of weeks, he has shown that he is not just a flash in the pan but rather he is part of the exciting future of men’s tennis. I made the attached video about him directly after his huge upset over Rafael Nadal in an electric atmosphere at the Rogers Cup in his home country of Canada. The question was: is this kid for real? He followed up his stellar performance at the Rogers Cup with a run to the 4th round at the U.S. Open. During this time Shapovalov sent the tennis world into a frenzy of speculation as to how far he can go in his career.

Shapovalov started the year ranked #250 in the world, and he is now ranked #51 with lots of tennis left to play in the year. More importantly, he has almost no ranking points to defend which could allow him to solidify and/or increase his spot in the rankings as the season begins to wind down. So, what has been the reason for Shapovalov’s explosive climb up the rankings? He has been able to harness his competitive energy into becoming more disciplined and focused mentally. This has allowed his natural talent and acquired skill to run its course which has led him to become an extremely dangerous opponent for the top players in the world (ala Nadal, Tsonga, and Del Potro – recent victims of Shapovalov). Prior to his recent run of form, Shapovalov would often let his temper flare up during matches. This negative energy usually hurt him in the match and dropped his level of play. In February of this year, his temper got the best of him when, during a Davis Cup match, he stuck a ball into the crowd in frustration and accidentally hit the umpire in the eye. He was subsequently disqualified from the match resulting in Canada losing the tie to Great Britain.

This was clearly a wakeup call for Shapovalov and – with the help of his team and mentors – he has been able to harness his temper and apply that energy into focusing and competing in every match and his results have shown that.
Tennis fans may remember that Roger Federer had similar anger problems as a young player. He was also able to contain that and use the energy to focus and compete and look what he has to show for it.

Denis Shapovalov has the world in front of him. He is an extremely explosive athlete. Being 6 foot and about 160 lbs, he uses every cell in his normal-sized body to cover the entire court like a cat and to unleash brutal groundstrokes from both wings. His serve is world class and as a left-hander, he causes major headaches for right-handed opponents. Besides the physical weapons he possesses, he seems to have the drive to win that is necessary to carry him through inevitable tough times that lay ahead.

The ball is in Denis Shapovalov’s court, let’s see what he will do with it.

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