Rafael Nadal's Melbourne Epic: 11 Double Faults, Stomach Woes, and a Heroic Win

Rafael Nadal had to dig deep versus Denis Shapovalov at the Australian Open

by Jovica Ilic
Rafael Nadal's Melbourne Epic: 11 Double Faults, Stomach Woes, and a Heroic Win

Rafael Nadal made a perfect start at Majors in 2022, lifting trophies at the Australian Open and Roland Garros for the first time in a career. The Spaniard passed the ultimate test in the Australian Open quarter-final versus Denis Shapovalov, beating the Canadian 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3 in four hours and eight minutes!

Two rivals pushed each other to the limit under a scorching sun at Rod Laver Arena, with Nadal struggling with stomach issues for three sets and barely finishing the duel. Rafa lost four kilograms and hit 11 double faults for the first time in a career.

However, he stayed competitive and brought the victory home for a place in his seventh Australian Open semi-final. Rafa won 13 points more than Denis, playing better behind the first serve and defending six out of eight break chances.

The Spaniard grabbed three breaks in sets he won and served well to bring the victory home and remain on the title course.

Rafael Nadal hit 11 double faults against Denis Shapovalov in Melbourne 2020.

Shapovalov fired 20 aces and over 50 winners and unforced errors.

He embraced an aggressive approach, 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 the 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 for a strong start. 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 before wasting a set point at 5-3. The Spaniard wrapped up the set on his serve in game ten for a massive advantage, looking good to seal the deal in the third. Instead, the Canadian stayed in touch in the third set and delivered a late break at 5-4 to grab it and increase his chances.

The youngster broke the opponent to open a 3-1 gap in the fourth set and saved break points at 5-3 to force a decider. The opening three games of the final set proved crucial, as Nadal saved break chances in games one and three to end his downfall.

Rafa broke Denis in game two to move 3-0 ahead and brought the victory home with reliable serving in the remaining games.

Rafael Nadal Denis Shapovalov Australian Open