ATP Tour

Nadal saves two match points to beat Shapovalov and reach Rome quarter-finals

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Rafael Nadal (PA)
Rafael Nadal (PA)
PA/Supplied)

Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal saved two match points to defeat Canada's Denis Shapovalov in a three-set battle and advance to the quarter-finals of the Italian Open on Thursday.

Second seed Nadal won through 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) after nearly 3hr 30min on court against the 13th-seeded Shapovalov.

"It was a really difficult match, the score was against me almost all the time, but I was there, I was fighting all the time, I didn't give away anything," said the 34-year-old.

The Spaniard will be making his 16th last-eight appearance in Rome. It will also be his 97th ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final.

Nadal trailed by 0-4 in the opening set, and 0-3 in the second.

Shapovalov also broke for 3-1 in the third set but Nadal broke back immediately and held on despite two match points against him in the 12th game to force a tie-break.

Nadal's experience in the high-pressure moments paid off against the 22-year-old who had beaten him in their first meeting in Montreal in 2017.

"It's an important victory for me. Be able to win matches like today, long matches," said the 20-time Grand Slam winner.

"To be able to win these kind of matches against young players give me confidence with my body."

Nadal will next play either Germany's Alexander Zverev, the sixth seed, or Japan's Kei Nishikori for a place in the semi-finals.

Nadal lost to Zverev in the Madrid Masters quarter-finals last week.

For Shapovalov it was a "tough loss" with only "one or two points" the difference in the clash of left-handers.

"It's just a tough loss but who's going to give me crap for losing to Rafa?" said the Canadian who won his only ATP title in Stockholm in 2019.

"It's not the first time Rafa's done this. I'm not the first person to lose with match points.

"That's why he's won so many matches on clay. I mean, obviously he's a great player. There's no question about that, a tough one.

"For sure he does well with the pressure in those moments.

"But I'm definitely happy with where my game's at, relatively speaking, against the greatest player on this surface."

Collated results from the ATP/WTA Italian Open in Rome on Thursday (x denotes seeding):

Men

Third round

Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) bt Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 6-2, 6-1

Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x5) bt Matteo Berrettini (ITA x9) 7-6 (7/3), 6-2

Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) bt Dominic Thiem (AUT x4) 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/5)

Andrey Rublev (RUS x7) bt Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x10) 6-4, 6-4

Federico Delbonis (ARG) bt Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 7-6 (7/3), 6-1

Reilly Opelka (USA) bt Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 7-6 (8/6), 6-4

Alexander Zverev (GER x6) bt Kei Nishikori (JPN) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4

Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) bt Denis Shapovalov (CAN x13) 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3)

Women

Third round

Ashleigh Barty (AUS x1) bt Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 6-3, 6-3

Coco Gauff (USA) bt Aryna Sabalenka (BLR x7) 7-5, 6-3

Iga Swiatek (POL x15) bt Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-5

Elina Svitolina (UKR x5) bt Garbine Muguruza (ESP x12) 6-4, 6-2

Karolina Pliskova (CZE x9) bt Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 7-5, 6-3

Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) bt Angelique Kerber (GER) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4

Petra Martic (CRO) bt Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 3-6, 6-1, 6-2

Jessica Pegula (USA) bt Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 6-2, 6-4

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