It will be another Rogers Cup rematch for Denis Shapovalov this week in Rome – this time it’s against none other than Rafael Nadal.
Less than a week after facing his 2017 Rogers Cup semifinal opponent Alexander Zverev in the semifinals of the Mutua Mardrid Open, the 19-year-old Canadian will face the man who put him on the map in Montreal last season. Shapovalov’s stunning three-set victory over the legendary Spaniard was ostensibly the story of last year’s Rogers Cup, and his run at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament vaulted him into the Top 100 and onto the radars of fans and pundits alike.
But booking his rematch with Nadal – this time at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia — wasn’t an easy task.
Shapovalov overcame a titanic match with Robin Haase in the second round at the Foro Italico, defeating the Dutchman 7-6(3), 6-7(5), 6-3 in two hours, 26 minutes. Haase used his guile and exceptional movement on clay to force the Canadian into errors, but this week’s Top 30 debutant was eventually able to rein in his game and get over the finish line to book his meeting with Nadal in the third round.
The majority of the match was played on the soon-to-be Canadian No. 1’s terms, as he bossed around his opponent from the baseline and finished points off at the net. He was successful in executing his game plan in the first set, but his focus – and perhaps energy levels – faded in the second. However, Shapovalov has become familiar with the taste of victory lately, and surged ahead in the final set, sealing the match with one final service winner.
The 19-year-old finished with a massive 42 winners to 62 unforced errors, and was 13 for 20 on points at the net. He might have to tidy up his game if he’s to repeat his Rogers Cup upset over Nadal, but either way, their Thursday match is bound to be electric.
(Feature photo: Christopher Johnson)