Canadian Denis Shapovalov cranked out 35 winners while rallying for a 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory over ailing Spaniard Rafael Nadal on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.
The 13th-seeded Shapovalov won the final four games after the third-seeded Nadal began having movement issues in his surgically repaired left foot.
“I am living with an injury. My day-by-day is difficult,” Nadal said after the match. “I am trying hard but of course it’s difficult to accept the situation at times. A lot of days I can’t practice the proper way.
“Today it started half way through the second set and it was unplayable for me. But I don’t want to take away credit from Denis that he deserves.”
Nadal rolled through the opening set and the match was tied 5-5 in the second before Shapovalov won the final two games to force a third set.
“I was just trying to change something,” Shapovalov said of his slow start. “He was completely outplaying me at the beginning of the match. Obviously the first set, the beginning of the second I was just hanging in there. Definitely really happy to turn it around.”
Nadal, a record 10-time champ in Rome, was unsure of his availability for the upcoming French Open, which he has won a record 13 times.
“What’s going to happen in the next couple of days, I don’t know,” Nadal said. “What’s going to happen in one week, I really don’t know now.”
Shapovalov will next face fifth-seeded Casper Ruud after the Norwegian recorded a 6-3, 6-4 triumph over American Jenson Brooksby.
Top-seeded Serbian Novak Djokovic needed just 75 minutes to post a 6-2, 6-2 win over Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka. The five-time event champion converted 75 percent of his first-serve points.
Djokovic next faces eighth-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, who produced a 6-3, 6-2 win over American lucky loser Marcos Giron.
“I have known Felix for quite a few years,” Djokovic said. “He is established, a Top 10 player, so (he) is right up there. He is as hard (a) worker on the Tour that you see and he is a nice guy. His all-around game is improving. He is improving on clay. I know his game and what is expected.”
Second-seeded German Alexander Zverev advanced with a 6-3, 7-6 (5) victory over Australia’s Alex de Minaur.
Zverev next faces Chile’s Cristian Garin, who notched a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Croatia’s Marin Cilic.
Fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece and 10th-seeded Italian Jannik Sinner square off in the other quarterfinal. Tsitsipas beat Russia’s Karen Khachanov 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 and Sinner knocked off Serbian Filip Krajinovic 6-2, 7-6 (6).
–Field Level Media