The 20-time Major winner Rafael Nadal took down Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3 in four hours and eight minutes in an epic Australian Open quarter-final. Struggling with stomach issues, Nadal had to dig deep after the third set, giving his best to stay in touch and sealing the deal with an early break in the decider.
Nadal will take much-needed two days off before the semi-final clash against Matteo Berrettini or Gael Monfils. Rafa defeated Denis for the fourth time in five encounters for his 36th Major semi-final and the seventh at the Australian Open.
As many times before (7-7 score in the quarter-final matches in Melbourne), Nadal struggled physically but emerged at the top despite the problems to score his eighth victory from as many encounters in 2022. Rafa won 13 points more than Denis, playing better behind the first serve and defending six out of eight break chances.
Rafael Nadal toppled Denis Shapovalov in five sets in Melbourne.
The Spaniard grabbed three breaks in sets he won and served well to bring the victory home and remain on the course towards the 21st Major. Shapovalov fired 20 aces and over 50 winners and unforced errors, trying to stay aggressive and rush to the net.
The Canadian had a slight advantage in the shortest and most extended exchanges. The more experienced player erased that deficit in the mid-range rallies, where he forged his victory. Rafa dropped only five points behind the initial shot in the first set and broke Denis at love in game four to generate the lead.
World no. 5 held at 15 in game nine to seal the set and gain a boost. Shapovalov raised his level on the return a bit in set number two, but it was still not enough to create break chances. Nadal stole his serve in the seventh game, wasted a set point at 5-3 and wrapped up this part of the match on his serve in game ten for a massive two sets to love advantage.
The Canadian stayed in touch in the third set and delivered a late break at 5-4 to grab it and increase his chances ahead of the fourth. In the fourth set's fourth game, the youngster broke the opponent to open a 3-1 gap and saved break points in the ninth to secure the set and force a decider.
The opening three games of the final set proved crucial, as Nadal saved break chances in games one and three and broke Shapovalov in between to move 3-0 ahead and bring the victory home from there.