There is a new man at the head of men’s tennis in Canada. Denis Shapovalov will overtake Milos Raonic as the #1 player in the country after Raonic has held that position for more than 7 years.
The new kid on the block has settled in
The 19-year-old Shapovalov is racing up the ATP rankings. With almost no ranking points to defend until the Rogers Cup, he will likely stay as the #1 player in Canada for the near future.
Rankings do not always tell the whole story, as Raonic has been injured and therefore dropped in the ranking. At the end of 2016, Raonic was ranked #3 in the world and made it to the final of Wimbledon. It will take a lot of consistent, deep runs in tournaments for Shapovalov to get anywhere near where Raonic has been…but, Shapovalov does have the weapons to take him there.
As we have said since he broke out at the Rogers Cup last year, Shapovalov’s forehand, serve, and movement are world class. These weapons can take him to the pinnacle of men’s tennis. Aside from his cringe-worthy celebrations and dusty haircut, Shapovalov’s only potential weakness is lack of experience. We saw Jo-Wilfried Tsonga exploit this in the Australian Open this year as Shapovalov tightened up while trying to close out their 2nd round match in the 5th set.
He’s inexperienced, and that’s ok.
The upside to his inexperience? He’s only 19. With the game he possesses and the passion he displays, there is nothing but success in Denis Shapovalov’s future. His name might be hard to pronounce, but his talent is obvious to see. He has classical strokes give him easy power on the forehand and serve. Using his flexibility and length, he whips opponents with attacking shots from the left-hand side. His athleticism allows him to defend and make opponents second guess themselves when coming forward.
Shapovalov seems to be more interested in winning tennis matches than drinking in the luxuries of being a professional athlete in the 21st century. This will prove to be key to his long-term success. The individuality of tennis demands that it’s great players be almost freakishly determined on winning every match they play in. With Federer and Nadal setting new heights for competitive consistency, players of the future must display consistent effort and execution for them to be considered good let alone great. Shapovalov seems determined to win tennis matches more than anything else, and this – paired with his talent – can take him to the top.
Shapovalov eclipsing Raonic as the Canadian #1 does not mean that he is now better than his predecessor (even though he just triumphed over him in Madrid 6-4,6-4), but it does show that he is the future of men’s tennis in Canada. As Milos Raonic has proved, being the best in Canada means a great deal on the world stage as well.
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