Rafael Nadal had to work hard in the third round of the Rome Open last week, battling against Denis Shapovalov for almost three and a half hours! The Spaniard prevailed 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 after fending off two match points in the deciding set's 12th game, surviving all the obstacles to find himself in the quarters and avoiding the third early Masters 1000 loss this year.
Nadal won five points more than Shapovalov, wasting ten out of 14 break chances and suffering five breaks that almost cost him the match after he trailed 6-3, 3-0, 40-30. Denis fired over 40 winners and tried to keep the points on his tally, pushing Nadal to the limits and staying in touch with a great rival in the shortest and mid-range exchanges.
After a terrible start, Rafa started to climb back in the second set's second part, trailing again in the decider before making one last push that kept him alive. Denis survived three break chances at 5-5 in the decider and created those two match points in the next game, wasting them and losing the tie break 7-3 to propel Rafa through.
After the match, Nadal said that he had to keep his head clear, spraying too many errors from his racquet but losing the mental strength to remain positive and keep fighting until the end.
Rafael Nadal saved two match points against Denis Shapovalov in Rome.
"I choose to fight and keep the fighting spirit and determination.
Many errors were coming from my racquet, and I at least tried to keep my head clear. This is sport, and you always have to fight until the end. It's worth all the effort if you score only one win like this every season. Without a doubt, it was a significant victory for me; it gives me a lot of confidence, although I know I have to do better.
There were many long games, and I had to fight hard to reach the quarters. I hope I can get ready for that match; the main thing is to recover physically, and we will see how I wake up. These types of encounters are always challenging, as you have to play the next day again.
Rome is a very important tournament for me, and I'm going day by day. I can't think about Roland Garros at the moment, although I should have my chances if I come well prepared. It's impossible to compare this match with the 2006 Rome final against Roger Federer.
That was the final, and this is the third round. I think I never won a Major from saving a match point, and if I have to pick the favorite match when I did that, it was the one against Roger here 15 years ago," Rafael Nadal said.