(Reuters) – Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov believes his first season on the ATP Tour has helped him grow into a better player and he is relishing the challenges ahead.
The 18-year-old gained recognition last year when he stormed to the Rogers Cup semi-finals, becoming the youngest player to reach a Masters 1000 semi after ousting Rafa Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro.
“I just think I’ve matured from last season. I was a little bit overwhelmed with all the travel… It’s a lot of press. It’s a lot of switching hotels every week. Switching countries… It’s absolutely crazy at times,” Shapovalov told the ATP website (www.atpworldtour.com).
“… I’ve learned to deal with all the media stuff, with all the travel, I’ve learned to embrace it and to enjoy it and that’s been the biggest change for me.”
The teenager reached the U.S. Open fourth round and made his Australian Open debut last month, losing in the second round to Jo Wilfried Tsonga.
“Last year it was a little bit crazy, being the youngest. But I don’t see myself as the youngest anymore. I just see myself as equal to any of these players. I think they see me the same way,” Shapovalov added.
“I feel like everyone really respects me in the locker-room. I feel pretty comfortable on tour. I feel like I can compete with any of the players.”
The world number 46 will face American Jared Donaldson in the second round of the Delray Beach Open on Thursday.
(Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)