One of the brightest young stars in tennis, Denis Shapovalov has made headlines during his assault on the ATP rankings since breaking onto the scene in 2017. With a number of big name wins on his resume and coming from professional tennis lineage, Shapovalov is one of the most intriguing prospects on the ATP tour at just 19 years old. The second youngest player in the ATP 100 (and highest ranked at that), Shapovalov has an incredibly bright future ahead of him and is primed to build on what has already been an impressive career.
With an electric and outgoing personality to match his flashy on-court play, Shapovalov is making waves off the court in the tennis world as well. One of the most personable young stars in the game, Shapovalov shies away from traditional tennis norms and is unafraid to simply be himself on camera. With Rafael Nadal going as far as to say that Denis has “star” potential, Shapovalov’s name is one we should be hearing a lot more of in years to come.
Heres what you need to know.
1. Denis Shapovalov is the Youngest Player Since 2005 to Enter the ATP Top 30
In May of 2018, Shapovalov became both the youngest player since 2005 to enter the ATP Top 30 and also became Canada’s highest ranked tennis player. Having just turned 19 the month before, Shapovalov was the youngest player to achieve the feat since Richard Gasquet took the tennis world by storm in 2005. Being mentioned in the same breath talent-wise as the French super-prospect turned tennis star is extremely promising for Shapovalov. Gasquet was one of the worlds biggest up and coming stars before personal struggles and injuries derailed his career.
Shapovalov is also the second youngest player ranked in the top 100 and only older than former doubles partner and fellow Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime. Sapovalov and Auger-Aliassime teamed up to win the US Open Juniors Double Championship in 2015. Despite coming up as fellow countrymen and playing together at the US Open Juniors, the two have only crossed paths twice, once on the challenger tour and once on the ATP tour with Shapovalov taking home the win in both matches.
Safe to say, with his wins over fellow up and comer Auger-Aliassime as well as his impressive ranking, Shapovalov has made a solid case for being tennis’ brightest young star. Only time will tell if he can continue his run but Shapovalov is off to one of the best starts to a career in tour history.
2. Denis Shapovalov Beat #2 Ranked Rafael Nadal When He Was Only 18 Years Old
At just 18 years old and a relative unknown in the tennis world, Denis Shapovalov shocked the world by beating the number two ranked player in the world, Rafael Nadal. Shapovalov took down Nadal in Montreal with a 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 win at the 2017 Rogers Cup. Shapovalov had previously knocked off Juan Martin del Potro the round prior and the back to back wins put him on the map as one of tennis’ best young prospects.
After falling in an early hole with a 3-6 first set loss, Shapovalov would flash his all-court game and was able to answer anything that Nadal threw his way. Shapovalov used the momentum he gained after jumping to a 3-0 lead to start the second set and wouldn’t look back. Although Nadal would not go down without a fight, the Canadian was able to hold his own and come up with big shot after big shot to survive against Rafa.
Although Shapovalov would fall in the next round of the Rogers Cup, he would use the event as a springboard and began to quickly climb up the ATP ladder. After his miraculous semifinal run at the Rogers Cup in 2017, Shapovalov would follow that up with a semifinal showing in Madrid to go with a considerably stronger 2018 season. Coming off his best career finish in the Australian Open in 2019, Shapovalov looks primed to work his way into the upper echelon of the tennis elite.
3. Denis Shapovalov was Voted the 2017 ATP Star of Tomorrow
Known formerly (and now once again) as the ‘ATP Newcomer of the Year Award’, during the five-year stretch where the award was renamed the ‘ATP Star of Tomorrow’, Denis Shapovalov took home the honors in 2017. One of the tennis world’s most prestigious awards, Shapovalov won the award on the back of his incredible upset of Rafael Nadal and run in the Rogers Cup.
The award has been previously awarded to a number of big names in tennis, including Nadal himself. Some others to win the award in years past have been Kei Nishikori, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gaël Monfils, Andy Roddick, and the legendary John McEnroe. Joining such elite competition, the tennis world was undoubtedly put on notice following Shapovalov’s breakout 2017 campaign.
4. Denis Shapovalov is an Aspiring Rapper
During the 2018 ATP offseason, Shapovalov picked up a new hobby, rapping! Under the record label Hollywood Savages, Shapovalov donned the monicker “Shapo” and worked alongside fellow rapper Shan to produce a track in November of 2018. While the track was never officially released, Shapovalov would go on to repeatedly tease it on his instagram.
More recently, Shapovalov busted out his rapping skills after defeating 10th ranked Marin Cilic.
Unfortunately, “Shapo’s” debut performance didn’t go as planned and he was forced to resort to reading the lines off his phone. He gets a pass this time considering his performance came on the heels of an improbable upset victory over one of the world’s best tennis players on one of tennis’ biggest stages.
Despite claiming it was “only a hobby” on his Instagram and telling fans that he was turning his full attention back to tennis with the season about to kick off, “Shapo” seems to be still trying to stay sharp on the mic. However, given his recent performances on the court and the mic, he may be better suited sticking to his tennis game.
5. Denis Shapovalov’s Mother was a Former Professional Tennis Player
Despite being born in Israel before immigrating to Canada, Shapovalov’s mother and father initially lived in the Soviet Union. Shapovalov’s mother, Tessa Shapovalova was a former professional Soviet tennis player and has assumed the role of co-coach for just about all of Denis’ career.
Tessa Sharpovalova posted a career record of 31-31 on the WTA tour after the fall of the Soviet Union despite having spent the majority of her athletic prime playing tennis in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union made it nearly impossible for their players to compete on the international stage and as a result, Sarpovalova was never able to showcase the fullest extent of her abilities to the world.
However, Sharpovalova did end up opening up her own Tennis Academy, Tessa Tennis, based out of Vaughn in Ontario, Canada. Denis Shapovalov got his start at the academy and according to her website, “Many of her students have provincial and national titles and participate in provincial and national teams.” With over twenty years of coaching experience and an impressive resume, Denis Sharpovalov undoubtedly comes from strong tennis genes that knew how to properly mold his skills.