04:29 PM GMT September 01, 2017
Six weeks. That is all that has separated Denis Shapovalov from being a rising #NextGenATP prospect with a promising future to one of the biggest threats at the 2017 US Open, on the brink of a Top 50 breakthrough.
Shapovalov's ascent in the months of July and August is nothing short of astonishing and incomprehensible. At the 14th position in the Emirates ATP Race To Milan on 17 July, the Canadian had an outside chance of qualifying for the Next Gen ATP Finals.
But, on the heels of a second ATP Challenger Tour title on home soil in Gatineau, semi-final finish at the Coupe Rogers and run to the US Open third round as a qualifier, he has catapulted as high as fourth. He is bidding to qualify for the inaugural 21-and-under event, to be held from 7-11 November in Milan. Buy Tickets
And with a surge of momentum at his back, he is not close to finished climbing.
"Milan is going to be an incredible tournament," Shapovalov told ATPWorldTour.com. "I really hope I can make it. I really shot up [the Emirates ATP Race To Milan]. We'll see how it goes. There are some awesome guys playing some big tournaments. It would be such a privilege to be there in the first year they're doing it.
"It's an amazing idea and really cool that they're changing up the rules to keep it interesting. Just to be named one of the Top 8 NextGen guys is an honour. To represent my country in this tournament will mean the world to me."
Shapovalov, who was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, before his family moved to Canada, first crashed onto the scene with an upset of Nick Kyrgios at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Toronto last year, before kicking off his 2017 campaign with his maiden Challenger crown in Drummondville.
The 18 year old - junior champion at Wimbledon last year - was hovering inside the Top 200 of the Emirates ATP Rankings before receiving a wild card into the main draw at the All England Club. He would suffer a four-set defeat to Jerzy Janowicz, but little did Shapovalov know that his life would change from there. A second Challenger title in Gatineau moved him firmly inside the Top 150 and a run to the last four in Montreal has him entrenched in the Top 100.
"My breakthrough moment this season has to be in Montreal. My whole life has changed from that experience. It's getting tougher to go places and not get noticed. Coming back from four match points down in the first round and then beating [Juan Martin] del Potro, beating [Rafael] Nadal and then [Adrian] Mannarino, it really pushed me up in the [Emirates ATP] Rankings and gave me confidence that I can play against these top guys and that I belong here.
"To have a chance to play against guys like Delpo and Rafa was really inspiring for me. It was really motivating to play in front of all those fans too. The stadium was packed and it was getting so loud in there. It was so much fun to be a part of that."
Now, the Top 50 is in sight for the Canadian with a mammoth US Open third-round clash against Kyle Edmund slated for Friday at Flushing Meadows. The sky's the limit for the youngest player in the Top 100.
"At the start of the year my goal was to be Top 200 or 150 in the world. I kind of zoomed past that midway through the season and then it was Top 100. I moved past Top 70 after Montreal and the goal would be to end the year in the Top 50, but I won't be upset if I won't make it."