For Nadal, things went according to plan against Shapovalov, in just 43 minutes the third in the world rankings won the first set 6-1. The second half was initially more balanced, but then the 35-year-old Spaniard slipped, which may have worsened his chronic foot injury. Nevertheless, Nadal continued to play, lost the second set 5:7 and was visibly handicapped and without a chance in the decisive set. After 2:38 hours, Shapovalov won the match with the third break in the third set.
In the quarterfinals, Shapovalov now meets the Norwegian Casper Ruud, who defeated the American Jenson Brooksby 6:3 6:4. Nadal, who ended the season early last year in August due to problems with his left foot and fought to return to top form after a rib injury in March, now has to worry about starting at the French Open from May 22nd. In Paris, the Spaniard could extend his Grand Slam record to 22 major titles.
Persistent pain in left foot
After the game, Nadal emphasized that he had not injured himself again, but that old pain had become acute again. Since 2005 he has been suffering from the incurable Müller-Weiss syndrome, a disease in which bone tissue dies and causes severe pain. “Unfortunately my everyday life is difficult. Nevertheless I do my best. Of course, sometimes I find it difficult to accept the situation. It’s sometimes frustrating when I can’t train normally for several days,” emphasized Nadal. “Today it started again in the middle of the second set and it became unbearable.”
Djokovic, however, had no problems. The Serb only needed 75 minutes to beat veteran star Stan Wawrinka 6-2 6-2. The 37-year-old Swiss, who had not played for twelve months after two operations for a foot injury, had previously fought his way into the third round with victories over the American Reilly Opelka and the Serb Laslo Djere, making it his 26th duel secured with Djokovic, the first since 2019.
“It’s great to see Stan again,” said the Serb. “He won two matches here, he’s still not there physically, but he’s still Stan and can hurt you.” Wawrinka (ATP number 361) showed a strong defensive performance at times, but in the end he had to clear himself give up. “Right from the start I really moved him on the court and held my serve well,” said Djokovic, who now meets Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime, who defeated American Marcos Giron 6-3 6-2.
Zverev has to work against De Minaur
The German Zverev had a little more trouble in the 6: 3 7: 6 (7/5) victory over the Australian Alex de Minaur. The third in the world rankings, who is second in the Italian capital and won the 2017 tournament, started the match against world number 22 with concentration. In the second set, the encounter was more balanced, Zverev conceded two breaks and also gave up the serve to make it 7: 5 and win the match. In the tie-break, however, he kept his nerve and secured victory after 1:49 hours.
Favorites at ATP Masters in Rome continue
At the ATP 1000 tournament in Rome, the favorites prevailed on Thursday. In addition to the top seeded Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev are also in the quarterfinals.
“That was a pretty good level from me,” said the 2021 Summer Games gold medalist, who now meets Cristian Garin of Chile. “I still have to work on my serve and stay aggressive.” Basically, however, he saw an improvement compared to the round before, when the 25-year-old started the tournament by beating Sebastien Baez. “It was much better than yesterday. Of course there were still mistakes, but that happens and is normal.”
At the WTA 1000 tournament taking place in Rome at the same time, the world number one Swiatek extended her winning streak to 25 successes. The four-time season tournament winner from Poland defeated Belarusian Viktoria Asarenka 6: 4 6: 1 in Rome in the round of 16 and now meets ex-US Open winner Bianca Andreescu. 20-year-old Swiatek’s run of success is the longest since Serena Williams’ 27 wins in 2015.
ATP 1000 tournament in Rome
(Italy, €6,008,725, clay court)
WTA 1000 tournament in Rome
(Italy, $2,525,250, clay court)