World No. 16 Denis?Shapovalov?has no complaints so far about being in the US Open's 'bubble,' and comes into New York with an added title to his name: hip-hop artist.
Shapovalov, who infamously rapped at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open following his victory over Marin Cilic, admitted then that?he was "definitely am not ready [to rap] but I'll give it go." The 21-year-old appears more than comfortable now, after releasing his first?single, "Night Train," on Friday.
The song explores Shapovalov's "struggles [in] overcoming adversity without much support, but with devotion and hard work, he reaches success as fans cheer his name through the rafters," a statement explained.
The ATP tour returns this week following a five-month break, but Shapovalov and his peers won't have any fans to turn to for inspiration in the stands as part of strict safety protocols. Shapovalov enjoyed his best major run to date in 2017, when he?drew off the energy of the crowds in Queens?to reach the?fourth?round of the US Open as a teenage qualifier.
"It's going to be interesting, especially in New York. I've been able to gather some really big crowds,"?Shapovalov?was quoted as saying by Canadian press. "I'll definitely feel their support,?through the screens, through the internet, still know they're there with me while I'm on court."
But he also notes it's something that he and other pros are used to coming up through the ranks.
"We've all been through it before, I went through Futures, Challengers when there's barely any people watching," said Shapovalov. "So it's going to be kind of back to that, but I think everyone's still motivated to play regardless of whether there's fans or not. Everyone just wants to get on the court and compete."
Play will start with the Western and Southern Open, relocated from Cincinnati to New York, and then the US Open, followed by European clay events.
"I still don't know going forward which tournaments I'm going to play, which tournaments I'm not," said Shapovalov. "Even with the US Open,?I didn't know...?all the players staying at the same hotel and volunteers and everything," but added, "Everything has?been pretty good so far."
As fate would have it, Shapovalov?will take on Cilic to begin his return to action. Will Shapovalov?be ready to give a live performance of his new single to empty stands should he get the best of Cilic again? We'll?find out in a New York Minute, or two.