Canadian tennis prodigy Denis Shapovalov has set a maiden ATP title - but not necessarily the upcoming Australian Open - as his chief goal for 2018 after falling out of Auckland's ASB Classic.
Denis Shapovalov during the ASB Classic ATP Men's Tournament at ASB Tennis Centre in Auckland, New Zealand.
Shapovalov was outclassed 6-2 6-4 by former US Open winner Juan Martin del Potro in Wednesday's Classic second round, and will now head to Melbourne.
He had beaten Brazilian Rogerio Dutra Silva in the first round.
The 18-year-old Shapovalov, considered one of the finest young talents in world tennis, admitted he was still a level off the likes of del Potro.
But after enjoying a breakout 2017 in which he made the US Open's last 16 and beat star Rafael Nadal at the ATP World Tour Masters, he hoped to kick on.
At some point in 2018, he hoped to lift a senior men's singles trophy.
"I'd love to win an ATP title - it's extremely difficult, especially at the beginning of the year with everyone playing," Shapovalov said.
"It's tough every week but I think it's possible to do it."
The Bahamas-based Shapovalov was outgunned in every aspect by del Potro, who served big and frequently unleashed his trademark forehand.
Shapovalov, ranked 50th in the world, saw plenty of room for improvement.
"It's still a long way for me to get to where I want to be, so it's going to be a lot of work, it's not just going to happen," Shapovalov said.