Nadal sees off Shapovalov in Rome, looks ahead to quarterfinal against Fognini By Ricky Dimon

Written by: on 17th May 2018
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Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome
Nadal sees off Shapovalov in Rome, looks ahead to quarterfinal against Fognini By Ricky Dimon

epa06744903 Rafael Nadal of Spain in action against Denis Shapovalov of Canada during their men's singles third round match of the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Italy, 17 May 2018. EPA-EFE/ETTORE FERRARI  |
Rafael Nadal of Spain in action against Denis Shapovalov of Canada during their men’s singles third round match of the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Italy, 17 May 2018. EPA-EFE/ETTORE FERRARI

 

 

Novak Djokovic. Dustin Brown. That’s the entire list of active players who hold a winning record against Rafael Nadal.

 

The number was three until Denis Shapovalov saw his 1-0 lead over Nadal evaporate at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Thursday afternoon. Shapovalov, who upset the Spaniard in a third-set tiebreaker at last summer’s Rogers Cup, went down in 6-4, 6-1 flames during third-round action in Rome.

 

It was not even as close as the five games Nadal lost suggested.

 

Denis Shapovalov of Canada in action against Rafael Nadal of Spain during their men’s singles third round match of the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Italy, 17 May 2018. EPA-EFE/ETTORE FERRARI

Nadal got the job done in a quick one hour and 22 minutes, and it would have been even quicker if he had converted any of eight break points in his first two return games. Shapovalov did well to deliver early holds for 1-0 and 2-1 leads, but it all went downhill after he netted a backhand on break point at 3-3. The 19-year-old Canadian won only two more games the entire rest of the way.

 

Whereas Shapovalov made 14 more unforced errors (29) than winners (14), Nadal was plus-2 in that department (16 to 14) as he booked his spot alongside Fabio Fognini in the quarterfinals.

 

“It was a tough first set,” the world No. 2 admitted. “I’m happy for the victory against a difficult opponent and looking forward to the quarterfinal. [Fognini] is a tough player and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

 

Fognini, who upset Dominic Thiem in the second round, beat Peter Gojowyczk 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday.

 

“I’m happy,” the Italian assured. “It’s difficult to play in your country. You have a lot of pressure inside and outside the court…. It’s a great opportunity to play a quarterfinal for the first time in Rome. It’s gonna be a great match. Everybody knows that Rafael is the best player on clay in history.”

 

The 16-time Grand Slam champion is 10-3 lifetime against Fognini, who has defeated him twice on clay but has lost five in a row in the head-to-head series–including three at Masters 1000 events in 2017.

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

 

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