Denis Shapovalov pumps his fist.

Photo : @atptour

With expectations comes pressure. The result was a rollercoaster 2022 season for Denis Shapovalov. After struggling through much of the spring and summer months, the 23-year-old Canadian made sure to finish the ATP calendar on a high and give himself a welcomed dose of confidence heading into the Davis Cup Finals later this month in Malaga, Spain.

After posting an impressive victory on clay over Rafael Nadal, the greatest to ever play on the red dirt, to reach the quarter-finals at the Rome Masters in May, Shapovalov went into a bit of a tailspin. He endured a string of uncharacteristic first-round losses and won just one match on grass, his favourite surface. He also lost a tough opening-round match to Alex de Minaur on home soil at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers in Montreal, a tournament where he has enjoyed a lot of success early on in his career.

Shapovalov got back on track at the U.S. Open in September. Although he played three close matches and two against lesser-ranked players, it was evident that he was getting his groove back and his trademark shot-making was on full display. In the third round, he pushed Andrey Rublev to a fifth-set tiebreak which he lost but could have just as easily won if he had played the big points just a little better.

Finding Form in Seoul

Shapovalov carried his U.S. Open form into the ATP 250 event in Seoul, Korea a few weeks later and reached his first final of the season. He didn’t drop a set en route to the championship match where he was beaten by Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan.

Next, at the ATP 500 tournament in Tokyo, he advanced to the semifinals once again without losing a set before falling to the eventual champion, American Taylor Fritz in a tough three-setter.

These strong results set the table for his best performance of the 2022 campaign in Vienna last week. It’s no secret that Shapovalov excels on indoor hard courts, and he showed why as he navigated a challenging draw to find himself in the second biggest final of his career. To get there, he beat Cincinnati champion Borna Coric, Daniel Evans, who is always a tough out, and he avenged his Tokyo loss to Fritz.  In the final, he gave Danill Medvedev all he could handle in a highly entertaining match. His run in Vienna propelled him back inside the top 20 on the ATP ranking at no. 16.

This late-season surge will give Shapovalov something to build on as he prepares to make his much-anticipated return to the Canadian Davis Cup team and then begins his all-important offseason training block ahead of the Australian Open swing as he looks to take his game to a whole new level in 2023.