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Denis Shapovalov twitter US Open

Why is Denis Shapovalov so hot right now?

Like most, I first heard of Denis Shapovalov when he hit chair umpire Arnaut Gabas in the eye back in February. It was during a Davis Cup tennis match against Kyle Edmund that the frustrated 18-year-old Shapovalov stroke a ball as hard as he could after losing a serve game. The ball landed full speed on the chair umpire’s eye, causing the young leftie a default. Since then, Denis Shapovalov has gone on to prove that he is neither a stupid teen, nor someone we’ll only remember when lightheartedly discussing the unfortunate event. Considering he has only played about 15 matches in the ATP pro tour, his rapid climb up the ATP rankings and his most recent achievements are hard not to notice.

Shapovalov finally came into the spotlight for the right reasons in August 2017, during the Rogers Cup in his home country. There, he scored two consecutive impressive wins. First he beat the Tower of Tandil, Juan Martin Del Potro in the second round. You’d think this victory alone would be an amazing start to his pro career, one that many of his peers would be envious about. But the gutsy youngster actually went on to knock ATP World number 1 Rafa Nadal, out of the tournament in the third round. His amazing summer has continued in the 2017 US Open, where he beat 8th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round, before finally falling to Pablo Carreno Busta in the fourth. He is currently ranked 69 in the world and will climb up to number 51 after his great performances during the US Open.

Is Denis Shapovalov a one-hit wonder or a future tennis star?

Already a fan favorite, Denis Shapovalov has a pretty exciting style of play. What I like most about his game is the way he puts his entire weight behind his shots. How he makes the ball explode leaning forward, instead of mechanically using his limbs to produce his shots. Left-handed, with one of the game’s most beautiful one-handed backhands and a puppy-like energy around the court, it’s hard not to get excited watching him play. It’s also hard not to get a bit fatigued by the same qualities. At only 18 years of age, it’s only natural for him to get a bit too excited at times. But then again, it was the same edgy performance that outclassed Rafa Nadal’s fiery presence in their most recent clash. And the same type of energy that took Pablo Carreno-Busta 3 tie breaks to beat him in the fourth round of the US Open (7-6, 7-6, 7-6).  The first bet for the Canadian will be to tame this excitement but only to the point where his on court presence becomes a bit “heavier” and more stable.

Last night, it was obvious he also has a certain effect on tennis fans, when he received a standing ovation in New York, in spite of his loss. I can only remember Novak Djokovic receiving such a warm farewell, after losing the 2015 Roland Garros final. That sort of appeal made Swedish former World number 1, Mats Wilander, say what no one else had dared to say before:

He is a serious talent. To be 100 percent honest, you cannot compare Shapovalov to any other youngster. He is a completely different level. It’s like watching a combination of Nadal and Federer at 18 years old.

He has the fire of Nadal and the speed around the court of Nadal and he has the grace of Federer – it’s unbelievable. He really captivates the crowd. Last night it was like Oh my god, where does this kid come from?

Those are big words. Too big perhaps. But to captivate the crowd on a stage dominated by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer is no small feat. Particularly in a sport like tennis, where the crowd is as demanding and strict as it gets. Tennis fans nowadays are desperate to find new idols as the end of the “Big Four” era approaches. Denis Shapovalov seems to have both star quality and the prerequisites to play great tennis, if he can keep his feet to the ground (literally and metaphorically speaking). Don’t let us down Denis!

Featured images from Denis Shapovalov’s Instagram and Twitter accounts.

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