Sports Tennis

Italian Open: Nadal saves two match points to defeat Shapovalov, Djokovic also advances to quarters

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic reached quarter-finals of the Italian Open in contrasting style here on Thursday.

While Nadal struggled to win 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(3) in a three-and-a-half-hour epic against 13th seed Denis Shapovalov, Djokovic cruised past Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2, 6-1.

Nadal, the nine-time champion, trailed 0-4 in the opening set, 0-3 in the second and saved two match points late in the third set as Shapovalov took control in their third-round clash. But Nadal grabbed the high-pressure moments and steadily raised his level to secure the victory for a spot in the last eight.

This is Nadal’s 16th quarter-final appearance in the tournament.

Serb world No. 1 Djokovic, on the other hand, entered quarter-finals for the 15th time in his 15th appearance in the tournament. Djokovic, a five-time champion, broke serve in five of his seven return games to stretch his perfect record of quarter-final showings in the Italian capital.

Also entering the quarter-finals is Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas who beat Italian No. 1 Matteo Berrettini 7-6(3), 6-2.

The fifth seed won seven of his eight net points and capitalised on Berrettini’s low first-serve percentage in the second set (32%) to win in one hour and 36 minutes.

Federico Delbonis defeated Felix Auger Aliassime 6-1, 7-6 while American Reilly Opelka beat Aslan Karatsev of Russia 7-6, 6-4. There are three more men’s pre-quarterfinals yet to finish.

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