Canadian tennis star Denis Shapovalov didn't want to celebrate too much after upsetting Rafael Nadal as he acknowledged that the Spaniard was clearly struggling with something. On Thursday night in Rome, Shapovalov recovered from a set down to stun 10-time Rome champion Nadal 1-6 7-5 6-2.
It was the sixth meeting between the two and Shapovalov's second win over Nadal. After easily winning the first set, Nadal started struggling in the second set and, even though he started the third set with a break, he ended up losing easily the decider.
In his post-match press conference, Nadal revealed he was hampered by a lingering foot issue and it was causing him a great pain.
Shapovalov: I'm a Nadal fan and sorry to see this happening to him
“I mean it’s obvious to see that something was going on, especially towards the end of the match,” Shapovalov said.
“I’m sure he was trying to do a good job during the match not to show it but hopefully he’s okay, I know he’s been struggling with the rib a little bit. Hopefully he’s alright for French Open. Obviously I’m a huge fan of his, growing up I watched him play him so many times, growing up I wanted to play and behave like him so definitely super look up to him and hopefully he’s fit for the French”.
In 2017, a teenage Shapovalov introduced himself to the tennis world by beating Nadal at the Montreal Masters. After winning the first meeting versus Nadal, Shapovalov lost the following four meetings. Earlier this year, Shapovalov and Nadal met at the Australian Open.
Shapovalov recovered from two sets down to force a decider but failed to complete a comeback as Nadal won in five sets and eventually lifted the title. This week in Rome, Shapovalov beat Nadal for the first time in five years.