Rafael Nadal survives two match points to beat Denis Shapovalov in Rome

The Spaniard also came from a set down against the 22-year-old Canadian to secure a spot in the last eight.

Rafael Nadal (L) and Denis Shapovalov after their match in Rome; Credit: ATP Tour Twitter

Rafael Nadal survived a thriller by saving two match points to book a spot into his 16th quarterfinal at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in thrilling fashion. The Spaniard rallied from a set down to beat 13th seed Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 in a three-and-a-half-hour hard-fought match on Thursday. “[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,” he added. Second seed Nadal will next play the Madrid Open champion Alexander Zverev or former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori.

Shapovalov said, “These matches, you have nothing to lose… I also think I have what it takes to beat these guys. 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.”

Earlier, Shapovalov started the brighter of the two, building up a 4-0 lead. After finding his feet, Nadal fought hard and broke back at 4-2, but the Canadian saw out the fightback to clinch the set 6-3.

The 13th seed gained another lead in the second set with an early break. This time the Spaniard’s response was lethal as he went on a streak to eventually win the set 6-4 and take the match into a decider.

In the third set, Shapovalov once again started with a break for 3-1. But Nadal immediately fought back to go on level terms. The Spaniard then came close to being knocked out when Shapovalov applied the pressure at 6-5 to gain two match points. But Nadal stood firm and took the contest into a tie-break, where he sealed the match.

“[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.”

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