Australian Open: Rafael Nadal beats Denis Shapovalov in five sets to reach semi-finals

Rafael Nadal celebrates beating Denis Shapovalov to reach the 2022 Australian Open semi-finals
Rafael Nadal has reached the Australian Open semi-finals for the first time since 2019
Dates:17-30 January Venue: Melbourne Park
Coverage: Daily radio commentaries on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Sport website and app, with selected live text commentaries online; TV highlights from middle Saturday.

Rafael Nadal again showed the immense fight which has characterised his career as he overcame physical issues to beat Canada’s Denis Shapovalov and reach the Australian Open semi-finals.

Spanish sixth seed Nadal won 6-3 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3, despite struggling physically in the fourth set.

Nadal, whose only title in Melbourne Park came in 2009, needed medication for what seemed to be a stomach issue.

The 34-year-old faces Matteo Berrettini or Gael Monfils in the last four.

Italian seventh seed Berrettini and French 17th seed Monfils meet in their quarter-final later on Tuesday.

Nadal is two more victories away from earning a record 21st Grand Slam men’s title, which would move him clear of long-time rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Nadal’s relief at coming through the toughest of tests was evident after Shapovalov pushed a backhand volley wide on the Spaniard’s first match point.

Grinning widely, Nadal celebrated by standing in front of his box and staring at his team while shaking both fists towards them. In contrast, Shapovalov demolished his racquet on the court.

Afterwards, Nadal said he “didn’t know” how he managed to win on a Melbourne afternoon where temperatures topped 30C.

“I was completely destroyed,” he said. “It was a very tough day, very warm, I didn’t practice for it.

“At the beginning of the match I was playing great, I know how difficult it is to play against a player like Denis.

“I had my chances at the beginning of the third, I didn’t get it and then started to feel a bit more tired and he pushed me.”

‘Playing again is the present of life’

In the absence of the deported Djokovic and the injured Federer in Melbourne, Nadal can move ahead of his great rivals in the race to finish with most major titles.

While eager to win as many Grand Slam titles as possible, Nadal has often said he is not motivated by beating Djokovic and Federer.

At this year’s Australian Open, he is grateful to be even playing.

Nadal missed five months because of a foot injury which – he revealed last week – left him doubting whether he would even return to the top-level.

A bout of coronavirus in mid-December also left him “very sick with fever”.

After beating Shapovalov to move closer to another Grand Slam title, Nadal said: “Of course, I’m surprised to be here.

“We can create history but the real thrill is that two months ago we didn’t know if we could be able to get back on tour.

“For me this is a present of life to be playing tennis again and I am just enjoying it.”

More to follow.

Banner Image Reading Around the BBC - BlueFooter - Blue

Source link

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *