A successful two weeks at the clay-court ATP Masters 1000 events has come to an end for Denis Shapovalov, as he bowed out to Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-1 in the third round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.
Two extremely tough matches in the first two rounds of the tournament had clearly taken their toll on the 19-year-old from Richmond Hill, who started off the match with Nadal strongly, but faded towards the end of the 82-minute contest.
The first set was played largely on even terms, with Shapovalov looking to be the one taking control of the points and succeeding by keeping the score close. Although he was unable to make an impact on Nadal’s service games, he showed his grit behind his own serve, saving eight of 9 break points in the first set. After eventually dropping the set, it was a traffic-free second set from Nadal, who showed the experience and ferocity that has dubbed him “the King of Clay” and earned him seven titles in the Italian capital.
Never say die, @denis_shapo 👌
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) May 17, 2018
Given that Shapovalov hadn’t won a single tour-level match on clay before the Mutual Madrid Open last week, earning six wins to his two losses over this important phase of the clay-court season can be considered a success for him. The Canadian is scheduled to play Geneva next, with Roland Garros the following week – where he’ll be seeded at a Slam for the first time.
It wasn’t all bad news for Canadian tennis on Thursday, however, as Félix Auger-Aliassime managed to sweep by Joao Dominguez at the Lisbon Challenger, 6-4, 7-5. A quarterfinalist last week in Braga, the 17-year-old phenom has made two quarterfinals consecutively at Portuguese ATP Challenger events.
Also successful at the Challenger level was Filip Peliwo and Vasek Pospisil, who got past Duckhee Lee and Max Purcell respectively to reach the final eight in Busan, South Korea.
(Feature photo: Christopher Johnson)