Nadal lauds Shapo­valov af­ter beat­ing teenager in Rome

The National - News - - SPORT - THE NA­TIONAL

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 over the teenager.

Shapo­valov, 19, stunned Nadal in the third round in Mon­treal last year to deny the Spa­niard a chance to re­gain the No 1 spot. Nadal, also at­tempt­ing to win the top spot back this week, will 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.”

The Cana­dian Shapo­valov was stretched to three sets in his open­ing two matches, against 15th-seeded To­mas Berdych and Robin Haase, and reached the semi-fi­nals 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 has not 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 his win over Do­minic Thiem.

Alexan­der Zverev kept his ti­tle defence on track but needed eight match points to get past Bri­ton Kyle Ed­mund and reach the quar­ter-fi­nals.

Zverev won 7-5, 7-6 and will play ninth-seeded David Gof­fin, who was lead­ing 6-2, 4-5 when Juan Martin del Potro re­tired be­cause of a groin in­jury, for a place in the last four.

Fourth-seeded Marin Cilic de­feated Benoit Paire 6-3, 6-4.

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

To stay in top spot, Halep needs to progress fur­ther than No 2 Caro­line Woz­ni­acki, who was fac­ing 15th-seeded Anas­tasija Sev­as­tova in a late match.

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

Halep plays US Open cham­pion Sloane Stephens or sev­enth-seeded Caro­line Gar­cia.

Svi­tolina beat 14th-seeded Daria Kasatk­ina 0-6, 6-3, 6-2. She will next face for­mer No 1 An­gelique Ker­ber, who routed Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-1, 6-1.

AFP

Alexan­der Zverev reached the quar­ter-fi­nals in Rome, but he needed eight match points against Kyle Ed­mund

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