Spectacle and drama seem almost always guaranteed whenever Rafael Nadal and Denis Shapovalov meet on the ATP Tour. This was the first chapter of the rivalry, five years ago in Montreal, as well as the most recent duel between the two, played last January in Australia, and the last meeting in Rome in the 2021 edition.
On all three occasions there have been comebacks. Without going any further, the last precedent, in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open 2022, ended in the fifth set in favor of Nadal despite the Canadian going from 0-2 to 2-2 in sets.
And a year ago at the Foro Italico, Shapovalov had two match points to win his first duel against Rafa since Montreal 2017, but the Spaniard rallied from 3-6, 0-3 to win what was widely regarded as the best comeback. it's from the season.
All the more reasons, in any case, not to miss this Thursday's match for a place in the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. The No. 4 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, coming off a win over John Isner in the opener, will be looking for his No.197 in ATP Masters 1000 tournaments on clay, as well as his 70th victory in Rome, the second event in this category in which Nadal has more wins.
Shapovalov, for his part, will be attempting to earn his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal berth since he was a semi-finalist at Rome 2020 (l. with Schwartzmann). A win would also mean his third against a Top-5 player, and his first on clay.
Whoever prevails in this match, which closes the men's day on Center Court (not before 7:00 p.m. local time), will face Casper Ruud or Jenson Brooksby on Friday. The other Hispanic who will be playing this Thursday will be Cristian Garín.
Rafa suffered a shocking loss against Taylor Fritz
Rafael Nadal has had enough of the constant comparisons between himself and Carlos Alcaraz. "I don't know [if Carlos Alcaraz is stronger than a 19-year-old Nadal]. We cannot be all the time thinking about how I was and how he is today.
He is what he is. He is fantastic," Nadal said. "The only thing that we can do is enjoy the career of an amazing player. It will be better, even if it's interesting, you stop comparing him with me." Although he admitted that it would be impossible to satisfy everyone involved, the World No.
4 sounded confident that a suitable compromise can be reached soon. "We are working on the council to protect every single player and to work in the best possible interest of the players. What's going to be fair or most or less fair for everybody, nothing is perfect," Nadal said.
"When things like this happens, nothing will be perfect because we need to know that not for everybody will be perfect."