Rafael Nadal Beats Denis Shapovalov to Advance to 2022 Australian Open Semifinals

Doric SamJanuary 25, 2022

Rafael Nadal of Spain plays a backhand return to Denis Shapovalov of Canada during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)
AP Photo/Andy Brownbill

Rafael Nadal advanced past the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the first time since 2019 with a 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, win over 22-year-old Denis Shapovalov on Monday night.

While he has made the finals five times, Nadal has won the Australian Open just once in his career in 2009.

Nadal was sharp to start the match. He converted on 76 percent of his first serves in the first set and lost just five points on serve.

ATP Tour @atptour

The Nadal touch⚡️ <a href="https://twitter.com/RafaelNadal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RafaelNadal</a> <br><br>🎥: <a href="https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AustralianOpen</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AusOpen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AusOpen</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AO2022?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AO2022</a> <a href="https://t.co/qVWPCtJI2D">pic.twitter.com/qVWPCtJI2D</a>

The second set was much more eventful, thanks in large part to Shapovalov's confrontation with the umpire.

He complained that Nadal should've received a time violation, and when he did it again, the umpire responded. Shapovalov and Nadal met at the net and seemingly worked things out.

José Morgado @josemorgado

Yikes... not pretty. <a href="https://t.co/8r2cpbKKMp">https://t.co/8r2cpbKKMp</a>

The Tennis Podcast @TennisPodcast

"Why you look at me? There are eight seconds to play, what do you want?" - Bernardes, Carlos<br><br>The Umpire Strikes Back<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AusOpen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AusOpen</a>

Wide World of Sports @wwos

You don't see that every day!! 🤯🤯<br><br>After clashing with the umpire for a second time, Shapovalov has been met in the middle of the court by his opponent Rafael Nadal to sort out business. 🎾👏<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AusOpen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AusOpen</a> - Live on Channel 9 and 9Now <a href="https://t.co/2nl8dz0yzG">pic.twitter.com/2nl8dz0yzG</a>

Ben Rothenberg @BenRothenberg

“Who you got in a fight, Lleyton?” asks Jim Courier after Shapovalov and Nadal have a chat at the net. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AusOpen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AusOpen</a>

Shapovalov jumped out to a 3-2 lead, but Nadal held serve and then earned his second break point of the day to go in front. The youngster began yelling towards his box, though it wasn't clear if he was angry at his coach or himself.

José Morgado @josemorgado

Just like in the first set, Nadal needs just one break point (and one terrible serve game -- full of bad decisions) from Shapovalov to break.<br><br>6-3, *4-3.

Shapovalov managed to compose himself and save a set point to make it 5-4, but Nadal was just too strong with his serve and closed out the set on the next point. His strength caused Shapovalov to struggle with his return shots throughout the entire match.

Nadal is nearly unstoppable when he takes a two-set lead, as pointed out by ESPN's Chris McKendry:

Chris McKendry @ChrisMcKendry

Nadal Is 263-7 when winning 1st set in Majors. 231-2 when winning 1st 2 sets. Always worth repeating. 👀

In the third set, Shapovalov once again took a 3-2 lead. Nadal had two double faults in the next game to set up Shapovalov with a chance at his first break point, but he was able to battle back to deuce and eventually took the point. It was a major missed opportunity for Shapovalov.

#AusOpen @AustralianOpen

Making moves, <a href="https://twitter.com/RafaelNadal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@rafaelnadal</a> style 😎<a href="https://twitter.com/Kia_Worldwide?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Kia_Worldwide</a> · <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Kia?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Kia</a> · <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MovementThatInspires?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MovementThatInspires</a><a href="https://twitter.com/wwos?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@wwos</a> · <a href="https://twitter.com/espn?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@espn</a> · <a href="https://twitter.com/Eurosport?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Eurosport</a> · <a href="https://twitter.com/wowowtennis?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@wowowtennis</a> <a href="https://t.co/PcTTSF2AP9">pic.twitter.com/PcTTSF2AP9</a>

Both players managed to hold serve on their next chances to create a 4-4 tie. Nadal's eighth double fault opened the door for Shapovalov to eventually work his way to set point, and this time, the Canadian managed to take advantage with a late break.

Ultimately, Shapovalov was able to keep the match alive by securing the third set:

#AusOpen @AustralianOpen

Well, well, well...<br><br>Buckle up tennis fans, things are heating up on RLA. <a href="https://twitter.com/denis_shapo?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@denis_shapo</a> claims the third set 6-4 💥<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AusOpen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AusOpen</a> · <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AO2022?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AO2022</a> <a href="https://t.co/k71kSmP5e2">pic.twitter.com/k71kSmP5e2</a>

With momentum firmly on his side, Shapovalov jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the fourth set, which included a somewhat controversial decision from the chair umpire.

Nadal was serving to avoid a break when he was given a time violation before double faulting to drop the game, per Christopher Clarey of the New York Times:

Christopher Clarey 🇺🇸 🇫🇷 🇪🇸 @christophclarey

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Nadal?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Nadal</a> gets a time violation when serving at break point in the fourth set. Then hits the net cord on a second serve, which drops in, then double faults to surrender the break to Shapovalov<br><br>The plot thickens<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/getty?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#getty</a> <a href="https://t.co/K1n9CEaIlE">pic.twitter.com/K1n9CEaIlE</a>

Shapovalov ultimately closed out the fourth set 6-3, resulting in a major celebration:

Tennis Canada @TennisCanada

We're going the distance! 🏃<br><br>Shapovalov forces a 5th set against Nadal after being down 2 sets to nothing. Unreal effort, 6-3 in the fourth!<br><br>LET'S GO!!!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AusOpen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AusOpen</a> <a href="https://t.co/y08dNNHoKX">pic.twitter.com/y08dNNHoKX</a>

Rafa used his experience to steady the ship, though, as he held serve to start the final set and then broke Shapovalov at 40-15 to take a massive 2-0 lead.

They traded holds of serve the rest of the way, but one more break was all Nadal needed to secure his spot in the semifinals.

A relieved Nadal reveled in the victory in Melbourne after finally taking care of his difficult opponent:

#AusOpen @AustralianOpen

One for the ages ✨<br><br>🇪🇸 <a href="https://twitter.com/RafaelNadal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RafaelNadal</a> defeats Denis Shapovalov 6-3 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3 to reach his seventh <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AusOpen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AusOpen</a> semifinal.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AO2022?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AO2022</a> <a href="https://t.co/2vp5Enfeep">pic.twitter.com/2vp5Enfeep</a>

Rafa also expressed gratitude for the opportunity to compete in the Australian Open at a high level:

#AusOpen @AustralianOpen

"For me it's just a present of life that I am here playing tennis again."<br><br>Find someone to love the way <a href="https://twitter.com/RafaelNadal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RafaelNadal</a> loves tennis 💙🎾<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AO2022?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AO2022</a> • <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AusOpen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AusOpen</a> • <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AOInterview?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AOInterview</a> <a href="https://t.co/Sg6tAskNeW">pic.twitter.com/Sg6tAskNeW</a>

With Novak Djokovic not permitted to take part in the tournament because of his COVID-19 vaccination status, Nadal may now be the favorite to go the distance and win his 21st Grand Slam singles title.

Nadal now awaits the winner of Tuesday morning's quarterfinal match between Gael Monfils and Matteo Berrettini in the semis.