Ahead of his debut appearance at the Sofia Open, Denis Shapovalov took a moment to reflect on his career progression in 2020. The 21-year-old may not have added to his trophy collection this year, but he has earned three Top 10 wins and a career-high position in the FedEx ATP Rankings.
Last year’s Stockholm champion advanced to his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the US Open and cracked the Top 10 for the first time with a semi-final run at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in September. Shapovalov’s Top 10 breakthrough has provided the Canadian with added confidence and he will be hoping to rejoin the elite group with a strong run this week in the Bulgarian capital.
“I feel like I have been playing some really good tennis [this year]. I am really happy with the way the season has went… I think I played really well throughout the season and I am really happy with where my game is.
”I feel like I have definitely improved and I feel like my level is with these [top] guys. If I am not able to reach Top 10 again this season, I will definitely try to go for it next season. The important thing is, I feel like my level is there with these guys and I am able to compete with anyone.”
Shapovalov has enjoyed success since the resumption of the ATP Tour in August, but the 6’1” left-hander will aim to end a three-match losing streak in his opening match in Sofia. The Canadian No. 1 will face Radu Albot of Moldova for the first time on Tuesday.
“I feel great. I had a good break, so I am fresh and feeling good. [I have been] practising well, so I feel good and [I am] excited for the tournament.
“[Radu] is a very tough opponent. The draw is very difficult. Every tournament this year has been pretty stacked, so it is definitely not an easy match… I am excited to get going.”
Shapovalov is not the only Canadian aiming to take the trophy in Sofia. The top seed is joined in the draw by second seed and good friend Felix Auger-Aliassime. The 20-year-old arrived late to Sofia after picking up his maiden ATP Tour doubles trophy alongside Hubert Hurkacz at the Rolex Paris Masters on Sunday.
“It is definitely great for Canada and for tennis in Canada. It is amazing to see us both [in] the top [positions] of the draw and hopefully this continues, inspires a lot of Canadian kids and keeps advancing the sport in the country.”