Italian Open | Denis Shapovalov finally released against Rafael Nadal

The fight was going to be tough and it was tough until the middle of the third round. Denis Shapovalov did not easily get rid of the visibly weakened Rafael Nadal on Thursday at the tournament in Rome with 1: 6, 7: 5 and 6: 2. Has the hour of salvation come for the Canadian?

Posted at 5:04 p.m
Updated at 5:47 p.m

Nicholas Richard

Nicholas Richard
The press

The Roman audience saw the Shapovalov of the good days on Center Court during his round of 16 match. However, the development was not favorable for the Ontarian, who had lost four of his five career duels against the Spaniard.

The match had started smoothly for him when he lost 6-1 in the first set. Nothing worked out for the Canadian who had 17 unforced errors. Shapo knew it wasn’t going to be easy against the man who’s won more than 90% of his career sandgames.

In the second set, the Canadian took over and took a 4-1 lead with the support of the Italian crowd, Nadal didn’t want to let him pull away anytime soon. The Spaniard’s throat was still tight after losing to 19-year-old compatriot Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him in the quarter-finals at home in Madrid last week.

Except Shapovalov kept coming into the net and constantly pressuring the winner of 21 Grand Slam titles, which paid off. Nadal suffered 19 unforced errors. The Canadian won the second set 7:5.

Round three was Shapo’s business through and through. Aggressive, precise and persistent. The 23-year-old athlete got the veteran moving a lot and he paid the price. Walking to a ball, Nadal injured his foot, the same one that made him sidelined for several months at the end of last season. In the second half of the lap, the Spaniard was limping and clearly in poor shape. Like the great champions, he still wanted to finish the match, but Shapovalov had the best at 6-2.


Photo ANDREAS SOLARO, Agence France-Presse

Denis Shapovalov celebrates after his victory.

Nadal made it clear after the meeting: “I wasn’t injured. I’m a player who has to live with injuries. That’s all. Honestly, my day-to-day life is difficult, and it’s sometimes difficult to accept that. He added that he didn’t know what his condition would be like in a week’s time. He has no idea of ​​the situation.

The winner of the duel explained how he felt it was a pity that the match ended like this: “It was difficult to see him in pain at the end of the match. I don’t like to see that, especially when it concerns a legendary player like Rafa. He brings so much to our sport. I hope he will be fit and ready to play in the French Open. »

The Spaniard suffers from Müller-Weiss syndrome, which leads in particular to necrosis of the os naviculare. This rare disease has no cure and Nadal was forced to end his 2021 season in August due to excessive pain.

“It’s sometimes frustrating when I can’t train normally for several days,” he said on Thursday. Today it started again in the middle of the second set (to make me suffer) and it became unbearable. »


Photo Alessandra Tarantino, Associated Press

Rafael Nadal

This victory remains of great importance for Shapovalov. First, because he got over one of his pet nerves. Then because it is Nadal’s earliest exit from the Rome tournament since 2008. Then because the Canadian usually struggles against players positioned in the league top 10, as evidenced by his 10-21 record. He beat Alexander Zverev at the Australian Open in January, but otherwise Shapo’s game has been inconsistent, if not well below his usual level, since losing to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon in the semifinals last summer.

He will now have the chance to show everyone he is fit again to go head-to-head with the best in the world when he takes on Casper Ruud, 10and World soccer player and clay court specialist, in the quarterfinals.

Auger-Aliassime and Andreescu pass

The other Canadians who are still in action on Thursday have also earned a place in the quarterfinals.


PHOTO GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE, REUTERS

Felix Auger-Aliassime

Félix Auger-Aliassime defeated Marcos Giron 6-3, 6-2 but will face Novak Djokovic on Thursday.

Bianca Andreescu has impressed since her return against Petra Martic with 6: 4, 6: 4. However, like her compatriot, she meets Iga Swiatek, number one in the world rankings. The Pole has won the last four tournaments she has participated in.

In women’s doubles, Gabriela Dabrowski and her partner Giuliana Olmos will also play in the quarter-finals on Thursday. In runners-up, they will meet the duo of Chan Hao-ching and Shuko Aoyama, in eighth.

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