You might want to get used to the name Denis Shapovalov. He's being billed as 'the future of tennis', and you're going to be hearing a lot about him.
The 18-year-old Canadian is taking the tennis world by storm, and during his match against 15th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – a match Shapovalov nearly won in five sets – former world No. 1 John McEnroe said that he expects Shapovalov to be a top-five player in the world when he’s 20 years old, adding that he’s “the future of our sport.”
He made the statement during the ESPN broadcast in the US.
John McEnroe, on the ESPN broadcast, just said he expects Denis Shapovalov to be Top-5 in the world when the Canadian is 20-years-old. Calls him "the future of our sport."— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) January 17, 2018
Shapovalov is 18, turns 19 in April.
Shapovalov rose to fame last year, when he defeated Olympic silver medalist, Grand Slam winner, and former world #4 Juan Martin Del Potro. Then he beat World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, proving that he is, in fact, someone to watch.
Shapovalov’s ranking shot up from 143rd in the world to 67th after Montreal, and then to 50th as he head into his first Australian Open. Despite his inexperience (he's only 18), he's fast becoming one of tennis' most incredible players.
But Shapovalov's age works in his favour. The sport's top athletes are all over 30: Roger Federer is 36 years old; Nadal is 31; Novak Djokovic is 30. Meanwhile, Shapovalov is years away from his peak and still has youth on his side.
So could he one day be “the future,” as McEnroe put it?
“There’s always the top guys – Roger, Rafa, Novak – these guys are just another level than everyone else,” Shapovalov told reporters at his post-match media conference following his defeat to Tsonga. “And then after that, the sport’s so close, you can compete with anyone.”
Keep an eye out for him. Canada's Shapovalov will soon be a household name.