Rafael Nadal had to find his best tennis to win a hard-fought three set battle against Denis Shapovalov to reach the quarter-finals of the Rome Masters.
Nadal came back from a set down and had to save two match points in the third set to take the match to a tie-breaker, eventually winning 3-6, 6-4, 7-6.
It was a strong showing from the Canadian though, who at one point was a set and a break-up, but it wasn’t enough to beat Nadal who showed the relentless ‘never give up’ attitude that is synonymous with his career.
After the match, Nadal said these physically challenging long matches are a good test of his fitness and that he is pleased he was able to fight until the end.
“[It] is an important victory for me [to] be able to win matches like today, three hours and 27 [minutes], in the Barcelona final three hours and 38 [minutes], long matches,” said Nadal.
“To be able to win these kinds of matches against young players gives me confidence with my body. It’s true that I have to do things better for tomorrow. But the main thing today for me is [to] recover physically.
“[This] has been a positive victory for me,” Nadal said.
“I [fought] until the end a lot to be in quarter-finals. Tomorrow is a chance to play a quarter-final match. I hope to be ready to compete well.”
Meanwhile Shapovalov said although he wasn’t surprised to lose against Nadal, it was still tough to take, especially knowing he had two match points but overall he’s happy with his performance.
“These matches, you have nothing to lose… I also think I have what it takes to beat these guys,” Shapovalov said.
“It’s not a surprise to me. It’s just a tough loss. Of course, it’s not the first time Rafa’s done this. I’m not the first person to lose with match points. For sure, he does well with the pressure in those moments.
“Just something I have to take back and just make a couple changes. But I’m definitely happy with where my game’s at, relatively speaking, against the greatest player on this surface.”
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