Denis Shapovalov, Alex de Minaur looking to build on teenage success

by: Kamakshi Tandon | November 26, 2018

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They're the youngest players in the ATP Top 40, and both Denis Shapovalov and Alex de Minaur say they have exceeded their goals this season. 

Shapovalov, whose breakthrough came in 2017 when he defeated Rafael Nadal to reach the Montreal Masters semifinals, began this season ranked No. 51 and climbed to No. 27 in the rankings.

"For me the goal was just to stay inside the top 50," Shapovalov was quoted as saying by Canadian Press. "To be able to finish [No.] 27, it's huge for me. It's pretty inspiring and motivating to keep going forward."

The 19-year-old Canadian says he has improved physically and mentally since he began playing on tour in 2017.

"I felt like to beat these guys, I had to play my best tennis," he said. "Now I feel like if I'm just playing good, if I'm playing my solid tennis game, I'm able to probably beat them and be tight [in the scores].

"So it's a huge confidence booster for me. But at the same time I definitely want to keep improving and keep going forward."

Shapovalov's coach Martin Laurendeau has had to take time off with back problems, and the teen appears to now have begun working with Rob Steckley. He is still aiming to win his first ATP tournament.

"Obviously, I didn't get to the finals or win tournaments," said Shapovalov, adding, "For the second year on tour, to do what I did, I'm pretty proud of myself."

Fellow teen de Minaur has had an even steeper climb this season. The 19-year-old began below the Top 200, and has now reached a career-high No. 31 in the rankings.

"It’s been insane," de Minaur said to Fairfax. "For 2018, I did have a goal to finish in the Top 100. I definitely exceeded my expectations."

The Australian created waves by reaching the Sydney final at the beginning of this season, and is eagerly anticipating playing in front of the cheering crowds again.

"I’m still the same guy but I just have a little more self-belief," he said. "I’ll just focus on things day by day and enjoy the moment and enjoy the energy from the crowd, enjoy being on court."

Though still physically slight, de Minaur is noted for his feet and his competitive desire.

"I’ve always been super-competitive," he said. "That’s something I try to bring every, single time I step on court."

The teenager is the top Australian player in the ATP rankings.

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