First came Prom, then Graduation Day and now school’s out for Canada’s high school class of 2017. But 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov’s life is much different than his friends’.
On Monday, instead of starting a summer job, Shapovalov will make his Wimbledon main draw debut, just one year after he won the Boys’ title at the All England Club.
"It’s incredible to be back," Shapovalov tells me over the phone from London. "I had the privilege of playing on the courts last year. I did very well on them. It gives me comfort to be back on those courts and to be able to play here again. I never assumed that I would be able to play in a main draw so quickly after Juniors. I’ve been having really good results. It really is a privilege. I’m very happy for the opportunity."
Shapovalov was given the main draw wild card after impressing late last month at the Queen’s Club Championships. After qualifying, then beating No. 47 Kyle Edmund, Shapovalov pushed Tomas Berdych to three sets.
"Queen’s was one of the best weeks of my tennis career," Shapovalov says. "There have already been a lot of highlights. Every week it’s always something memorable. I just hope I can make a couple more good memories in the coming weeks."
He already has. Last week he took to the Wimbledon practice courts with No. 1 Andy Murray.
"That was amazing," Shapovalov says. "Andy’s a great guy. It’s great to play with one of the best players in the world; match up my game against his, see what he does in practice and what it takes to be the best player. We chatted a bit, and wished each other good luck"
Despite playing against the defending champion, Shapovalov was all business.
"I don’t get nervous anymore. The first couple times I met Roger Federer, or Grigor Dimitrov, I was a little nervous," Shapovalov says. "But now it’s more natural."
Shapovalov can also take comfort in the fact that despite being up against a former Wimbledon semifinalist in Jerzy Janowicz in the first round, the Canadian has beaten him before – last March in the semifinal of a Challenger event in Guadalajara, Mexico.
"I feel confident," Shapovalov says. "I’ve been playing really great tennis. [Janowicz] is a tough opponent, it’ll be tough to play him on grass. He’s a big hitter, a big server. He’s made semifinals of Wimbledon.
It’s going to be difficult but I think I have a good chance."