INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – It feels as though Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov is already a fixture on the ATP Tour.
He’s a top-50 player, he’s made a couple of ATP Tour semifinals and he’s made a run at a Grand Slam.
But in reality, he’s still a rookie.
A year ago at this time, Shapovalov was playing a $25,000 ITF Pro Circuit event in Sherbrooke, Quebec – about 90 minutes outside of Montreal.
His ranking was just outside the top 250. And he wasn’t even close to getting into the qualifying at the BNP Paribas Open, let alone the main draw.
And so, after arriving from Acapulco, when the 18-year-old hit the practice court at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden Saturday, it was the first time he had ever even seen the place.
Shapovalov and Andrey Rublev pounded the bleep out of the ball in their practice session; Next-Gen special.
If there was a takeaway, Shapovalov discovered what most players do when they get here for the first time: the courts are REALLY slow.
It’s hard to hit winners. It’s hard to get the ball to go through the court. And they’re a little sticky.
He’ll have several more days to acclimate before the main event begins.