Road to Boston: Denis Shapovalov, Team World
An explosive shot-maker from all corners, Canadian southpaw Denis Shapovalov makes his third appearance for Team World, following a top-10 debut and a maiden Grand Slam semifinal this season.
The 22-year-old flourishes in big-match showdowns and is pivotal as one of Team World’s spearheads in captain John McEnroe’s lineup. In a measure of his singles credentials, Shapovalov has beaten each of Team Europe’s top four stars at least twice each.
How the year started
Narrow losses to Novak Djokovic and Team Europe’s Alexander Zverev at the ATP Cup preceded a third-round exit at the Australian Open, where the Canadian fell to compatriot and Team World teammate Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Shapovalov reached his first semifinal of the season in Dubai where he fell to South African Lloyd Harris and found form again on clay in Rome where he held two match points against nine-time champion Rafael Nadal only to lose in a three-and-a-half hour epic in the round of 16.
A week later, he advanced to his first clay-court final in Geneva but Team Europe player Casper Ruud gained the better of him that day. Shapovalov announced he would skip Roland Garros to heal a shoulder complaint and the rest paid dividends.
Maiden Grand Slam semifinal ensues
Shapovalov returned on grass at Queen’s Club and departed with a semifinal defeat to Cameron Norrie. It proved enough to summon his best form in time for Wimbledon, where he was a junior champion five years ago.
A comfortable victory over two-time former champion Andy Murray saw Shapovalov advance to the fourth round at a major for the third time in his career. He backed it up to send eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut and Russian Karen Khachanov packing for his maiden Grand Slam semifinal berth.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic was forced to dig deep as he raised his game at the crunch to eke out three tight sets for victory, but Shapovalov’s run ensured a return to the top 10.
“I felt like the game is there and it’s possible to go and play for the trophy. It’s a feeling I’ve never had before… I felt like I was outplaying Novak in parts of the match,” Shapovalov said. ‘If you’re outplaying Novak, you can beat anyone.”
How it’s going
After reaching his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Flushing Meadows in 2020, Shapovalov had high hopes of building on his deep run on the back of his Wimbledon success.
While he broke a three-match losing streak to reach the third round at the US Open, the seventh seed fell to Harris for the second time this season.
Shapovalov on playing Laver Cup
Shapovalov made his debut in the inaugural Laver Cup in Prague as the captain’s pick and returned two years later in Geneva. He is looking for his first win, following three defeats.
“I’m so excited to be back with Team World for another Laver Cup,” Shapovalov said. “I have great memories from both Prague and Geneva a couple of years ago.
“It was a lot of fun being on the team with guys that I’m normally facing across the net and of course having McEnroe as our team leader – it’s such an honor. It’s definitely going to be a tough challenge for us, but I really believe if we all work together and play our best tennis we have a great chance.”