Rafael Nadal is through to his seventh Australian Open semi-final and the 36th at Majors in a career. Rafa had to dig deep against the young Canadian Denis Shapovalov on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday, prevailing 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3 in four hours and eight minutes to remain on the course towards the 21st Major crown.
Since the fourth set, the Spaniard struggled with stomach issues and barely survived a challenging encounter under a boiling Melbourne sun. The more experienced player claimed the opening three games of the decider to forge the crucial advantage and bring the victory home to remain perfect in 2022.
As was expected, Rafa praised Denis and his fighting abilities after the match, saying it was a tough one and that he left the court completely destroyed. The Spaniard served on a high level in the opening two sets and delivered two breaks to forge a massive advantage.
Shapovalov raised his level in set number three and grabbed a late break to introduce the fourth set and improve his chances. Nadal needed a timeout to treat his stomach, taking some pills and hoping to feel better. Denis broke in the fourth game and saved break points at 5-3 to wrap up the set and force a decider.
Rafael Nadal gave his everything to beat Denis Shapovalov in Melbourne.
As we already said, the Canadian failed to seize that momentum, squandering his chances in games one and three and getting broken at 0-1 to find himself on the wrong side of the clock.
Rafa served well in the rest of the encounter to emerge at the top and find himself in the semi-final. "Honestly, I do not know how I won this one. I'm completely destroyed at the moment. I was a bit lucky at the beginning of the fifth set, and I brought the win home from there.
I played great in the opening two sets, and then I started to struggle against such a strong rival like Denis. He is very talented and serves and plays with a lot of aggression. It feels great to be back in the semis. I have two days off now, and that's crucial at this stage of the event.
I'm not 21 anymore, and it's great for me to have more time for rest after such a demanding marathon," Rafael Nadal said.