07:33 PM GMT October 23, 2017
One of North America's most promising tennis players will bring his fiery brand of tennis to the Next Gen ATP Finals next month. Canadian Denis Shapovalov on Monday became the fourth player to qualify for the inaugural event, to be held 7-11 November at the Fiera Milano (Rho), Italy.
Shapovalov joined Alexander Zverev of Germany and Russians Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov as qualifiers. The left-handed Canadian clinched his berth by beating Japan's Yuichi Sugita 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(3) in the first round of the Swiss Indoors Basel.
“I’m very excited. I heard about the event at the start of the year. I thought there was probably no chance that I was going to make it this year. But with a couple of good results in the summer I put myself in a good position,” Shapovalov said. “I’m very, very proud of myself and hopefully I can play really well there... Only eight guys get the privilege to play such a prestigious event. So I’m going to enjoy myself and try to do the best I can.”
The 18-year-old Shapovalov is the youngest player so far to guarantee his spot at the 21-and-under tournament, which will also feature a number of rule changes and innovations. Shapovalov captured the tennis world's attention in August when he sprinted through the Coupe Rogers draw in his home country.
The 6-foot left-hander started the week of 7 August at No. 143 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. He received a wild card into the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event, and showed exactly how to take advantage of such an opportunity.
After surviving a first-round battle against veteran Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil, Shapovalov knocked out Grand Slam champion Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets.
In the Round of 16, Shapovalov delivered the performance of his career, upsetting then-World No. 2 Rafael Nadal to become the youngest Masters 1000 quarter-finalist. He followed the stunning performance by beating Frenchman Adrian Mannarino to make the Montreal semi-finals. His dream run ended there with a tight two-set loss to fellow #NextGenATP Zverev.
Shapovalov proved he was no one-tournament wonder in the weeks ahead. Playing at his first US Open, he won three matches to qualify and proceeded to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time, beating then-World No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga along the way.
Only three qualification spots remain for the eight-player Next Gen ATP Finals. The top seven in the Emirates ATP Race To Milan, which ends on 30 October, will qualify. The eighth spot is reserved for the winner of an Italian 21-and-under tournament to finish on 5 November.