In the Internazionali BNL d’Italia A year ago, Denis Shapovalov had Rafael Nadal close to victory, managing two match points before losing in the tiebreak in the third set. On Thursday in Rome, it was the Canadian who made his comeback, beating the injured Nadal for the second time 6-1, 7-5, 6-2. The 13th seed advances to his sixth ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinals, denying the Spaniard a historic 100th appearance at this level.
Shapovalov won the last five games in the final set after Nadal struggled with an apparent foot injury, most likely related to his chronic left foot problem. The one-sided result belied the hard-fought nature of the contest, with a total of 17 break points in the first two sets.
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“I’m a big fan of his, growing up” – Denis Shapovalov
Nadal certainly set the tone early, saving three break chances in his first return leg before claiming two more breaks in the opener. Despite the 6:1 result Shapovalov kept up his threat and was rewarded early in the second. He began dominating the bloody rallies Nadal won in the opening set, breaking to 2-0 with more aggressive baseline play after saving three break points in a seven-two at love.
The Spaniard scored nine straight points to end the game 4-4 but Shapovalov stepped up his game as Nadal began to struggle physically. After wasting a set point on the return at 5-4, the Canadian conceded to win the set in a tiebreak as Nadal tried to force a tiebreak. With his movement restricted, Shapovalov took full advantage to sprint away with the match – but he needed three match points as Nadal showed his trademark fighting spirit one last time.
After his spectacular win, Denis Shapovalov said: “I was just trying to change something. He completely outplayed me at the start of the game. Apparently I just stuck through the first movement, the beginning of the second. Definitely really happy to flip it. Obviously growing up I’ll be a big fan of his.” said Shapovalov about the Spaniard. “I’ve seen him play so many times. Growing up, I wanted to play and behave like him. So I definitely look up to him and hope he’s fit [Roland Garros].”
Shapovalov, who rose to No. 15 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings this week, improved to 2-4 against Nadalwho won his first ATP Head2Head match since breaking through in Montreal in 2017. By winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Rome, the Canadian can climb to 11th place. Next for him is fifth seeded Casper Ruud, who is back on form by his standards after a slow start to the European clay season.
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https://firstsportz.com/tennis-news-happy-to-turn-it-around-denis-shapovalov-stuns-a-struggling-rafael-nadal-on-clay/ “Happy to turn it around,” Denis Shapovalov stuns a struggling Rafael Nadal on clay » FirstSportz