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Shapovalov 'has nothing to lose', targeting future Grand Slam title

© AFP/File | Denis Shapovalov lost to Rafael Nadal in Rome the week after reaching the Madrid semi-finals

PARIS (AFP) - 

Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov will continue his recent rise with his first French Open appearance next week, but insists winning the title at such a young age is "impossible".

The 19-year-old reached his second Masters semi-final in Madrid earlier this month and is widely-regarded as one of the best young players in the game.

Rafael Nadal won the first of his 10 French Open titles 13 years ago at the age of 19, but Shapovalov can't see himself pulling off the same feat as his fellow left-hander.

"I was talking about it yesterday... How Rafa won it when he was 19 and now it seems absolutely impossible," he told reporters at Roland Garros on Friday.

"I don't think it's possible to do something like this at this stage of the tennis life. What they (Nadal and Roger Federer) have done at such a young age is not something that you're going to see a lot."

Shapovalov announced himself at the top level with a stunning victory over Nadal on home soil in Montreal last year, and has since risen to 26 in the world rankings.

With 31-year-old Nadal and Federer, 36, having won the last five Grand Slam titles between them, the fight is on between the youngsters to take over the mantle at the top of the game.

Shapovalov has set his sights on emulating current world number three Alexander Zverev, 21, by heading into major tournaments among the favourites within the next two years.

"Obviously I don't expect such crazy results from myself this early on and hopefully a couple of years from now I can be a contender for the titles, kind of like Zverev is right now," he said.

"He's at that stage where he's looking to get his first (Grand Slam title), so hopefully I can get there as fast as Zverev."

Shapovalov's best results last year came on hard courts, so his run to the last four on clay in Madrid was a surprise.

But despite relying on an attacking and powerful playing style, he thinks he can win the French Open in the future.

"It's honestly not about this year, next year, it's about three or four years down the road when I want to be a contender for the Roland Garros title.

"I'm still a very erratic tennis player, I'm young. Some days I can play unbelievable and then I can have a phase when I'm not playing so good."

Shapovalov, seeded 24th in Paris, starts his campaign against Australian John Millman, and could face Nadal in the last 16.

"It's a tough draw, I have (Jack) Sock in my draw and potentially, if I get there, Rafa," he added. "So for me, there's nothing to lose. Every round I win is a bonus."

© 2018 AFP