Nadal de­feats Shapo­valov at Ital­ian Open

Span­ish ten­nis star gets re­venge for last year’s Rogers Cup loss to the young Cana­dian

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Sports - ANDREW DAMPF

ROME — Seven-time cham­pion Rafael Nadal me­thod­i­cally wore down De­nis Shapo­valov, 6-4, 6-1, on Thurs­day to reach the Ital­ian Open quar­ter-fi­nals and gain re­venge against the Cana­dian teenager.

The 19-year-old Shapo­valov stunned Nadal in the third round in Mon­treal last year to deny the Span­ish player a chance to re­gain the No. 1 spot.

Nadal is also at­tempt­ing to win the top spot back this week. He’ll re­place Roger Fed­erer if he wins an eighth Rome ti­tle.

In a match be­tween two left­handers, Shapo­valov saved eight break points in his open­ing two ser­vice games be­fore fi­nally drop­ping his serve mid­way through the first set.

“He was re­ally serv­ing big and I had some mis­takes with the re­turn,” Nadal said. “It was not a com­fort­able match against a lefty who serves big and goes for his shots.

“He’s good in all as­pects. The only thing he needs is a lit­tle bit more time.”

Shapo­valov was stretched to three sets in his open­ing two matches, against 15th-seeded To­mas Berdych and Robin Haase, and reached the semi­fi­nals of last week’s Madrid Open.

“I didn’t feel com­pletely dead out there but I felt like I could’ve been fresher,” Shapo­valov said.

Nadal, who hasn’t won the Ital­ian Open since 2013, next faces Fabio Fognini, who beat Peter Go­jowczyk, 6-4, 6-4.

Fognini slammed his racket mid­way through the sec­ond set and re­ceived a warn­ing from the um­pire but oth­er­wise held his com­po­sure to fol­low up an im­pres­sive win over Do­minic Thiem.

Fourth-seeded Marin Cilic de­feated Benoit Paire, 6-3, 6-4, while ninth-seeded David Gof­fin was lead­ing 6-2, 4-5 when Juan Martin del Potro re­tired be­cause of a groin in­jury.

Cilic will play 10th-seeded Pablo Car­reno Busta, who beat Al­jaz Be­dene, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-2.

In the women’s tour­na­ment, Si­mona Halep’s hold on the No. 1 rank­ing re­ceived a boost when Amer­i­can Madi­son Keys with­drew from their last-16 match due to a rib in­jury.

Halep now needs to progress fur­ther than No. 2 Caro­line Woz­ni­acki to stay in top spot.

Woz­ni­acki faces 15th-seeded Anas­tasija Sev­as­tova in a late match.

The win­ner will play Anett Kon­taveit, who ousted 1999 cham­pion Venus Wil­liams 6-2, 7-6 (3).

Last year, Halep rolled her an­kle in the fi­nal and lost the cham­pi­onship to Elina Svi­tolina.

Halep next plays U.S. Open cham­pion Sloane Stephens or sev­enth-seeded Caro­line Gar­cia.

Svi­tolina over­came a poor start to beat 14th-seeded Daria Kasatk­ina 0-6, 6-3, 6-2. She’ll next face for­mer No. 1 An­gelique Ker­ber, who routed Maria Sakkari of Greece, 6-1, 6-1.

This is the last ma­jor warmup for the French Open, which starts in 10 days.

Je­lena Ostapenko, pre­par­ing to de­fend her ti­tle at Roland Gar­ros, ral­lied past Jo­hanna Konta, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, and will meet three-time Rome cham­pion Maria Shara­pova or Daria Gavrilova.


Rafael Nadal, right, of Spain shakes hands with De­nis Shapo­valov af­ter the beat­ing the 19-year-old Cana­dian dur­ing the fifth day of the Ital­ian Open ten­nis tour­na­ment Thurs­day in Rome, 6-4, 6-1.

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