02:57 PM GMT September 07, 2017
It’s been quite the summer for Denis Shapovalov. At the start of June, the Canadian was just inside the Top 200 of the Emirates ATP Rankings and starting his grass-court campaign at ATP Challenger Tour events in Surbiton and Nottingham.
Fast forward three months and the 18 year old has been one of the stars of the North American hard-court swing, capturing the hearts of fans with his blockbuster game and engaging personality.
After a rollercoaster ride that saw him win the Gatineau Challenger, reach the semi-finals at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 in Montreal and become the darling of New York with his run through qualies to make the fourth round, it was to rapturous applause that Shapovalov departed Arthur Ashe Stadium after his defeat to Pablo Carreno Busta.
“Honestly, it was so much fun to be part of that atmosphere and the match and this whole two weeks,” said Shapovalov. “It's another life-changing event for me, and it's thanks to the crowd. They have been having my back these past couple months. They have been really carrying me. Without them it wouldn't be possible.
“Favorite memory in the past ten days? Honestly, I think it was the sound, the roar of the crowd when I put my bags down and I went to applaud them. They were all screaming. It was so loud, and it was a great moment for me.
“It really has a special place in my heart and now New York, for sure, it will always have a special place for me. Hopefully I can come back here for many more years and just try to do some damage.”
The Top 50 now beckons for Shapovalov, who will be on the verge when the new rankings are run after the US Open. It has been quite the rise for the left-hander, whose hopes at the start of 2017 were simply to try and crack the Top 150. His run this summer has also made the Canadian one of the firm favourites to qualify for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals at the end of the season, set to rise to the Top 5 in the Emirates ATP Race To Milan, having been down the standings at 14th on 17 June.
But for Shapovalov and his team, the hard work is only just starting. Now he’s tasted the big time, the teenager is determined to raise his level enough to compete on that stage week in and week out.
“The biggest lesson is that I'm able to compete with these guys. I still think I have a lot of work to do. I really feel like I have to put in a lot of work this off-season to try and secure my spot in these rankings and just to be able to compete with these guys week in and week out.
“Definitely, there is still so much work to be done. I'm playing unbelievable tennis right now, but it's not going to be like this every week. I mean, I have been very lucky. I have been playing really well. There's going to be a lot of tough weeks ahead, and I'm ready for that, as well.
“I think I really need to get back to work, and my team is making sure that first of all, I'm staying healthy, and second of all, I'm always trying to get better so that hopefully in the future I can make some more runs. Hopefully, eventually, in the long term, lifting up a cup.”