Rafael Nadal eases past Denis Shapovalov to reach Rome Masters quarter-finals

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Rafael Nadal subdued the precocious talent of Denis Shapovalov to reach the quarter-finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.

Shapovalov went into the match with a winning record against  Nadal  after beating him on home soil in Canada last summer but the Spaniard on clay is, of course, a very different proposition and he ultimately eased to a 6-4 6-1 victory.

There were plenty of the eye-catching shots that make 19-year-old Shapovalov such an exciting prospect as he saved eight break points in his first two service games, but  Nadal  broke for 4-3 and thereafter was in control.

Shapovalov not surprisingly began to look tired in the second set after his run to the Madrid semi-finals last week and battling victories over Tomas Berdych and Robin Haase in the first two rounds here and could not live with the relentlessness of  Nadal .

In the last eight  Nadal  will face another flashy player in Italian Fabio Fognini, who delighted the home crowd with a 6-4 6-4 win against Peter Gojowczyk.

Fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro retired with a groin injury during the second set of his clash with David Goffin.

The Argentinian did not appear comfortable at any point in the match and went off court for a medical time-out early in the second set.

Initially that seemed to adversely affect Goffin but, after missing a set point, Del Potro decided he could no longer continue and shook hands trailing 2-6 5-4.

The 29-year-old will hope to recover in time for the French Open, which begins on May 27.

Tenth seed Pablo Carreno Busta recovered from a second-set wobble to beat Aljaz Bedene 6-4 6-7 (3/7) 6-2.

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Rafael Nadal clinches 11th Barcelona Open title with win over Stefanos Tsitsipas

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Rafael Nadal won his 11th Barcelona title on Sunday when he breezed past Greek teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-1 in the final.

It was world number one Nadal’s 55th career clay-court title while he also extended his winning streak on the surface to 46 consecutive sets.

The 31-year-old Spaniard won his 11th Monte Carlo Masters last weekend also without dropping a set.

Sunday’s victory reinforced his status as the overwhelming favourite to lift the French Open for an 11th time in June.

Nadal now has 77 titles overall while his career clay-court match record stands at 401 wins against just 35 defeats.

His win on Sunday was greeted by ticker-tape and a video review of all his titles on the centre court in Barcelona which now bears his name.

“It’s really emotional to see that video. I never dreamed of having a career like this,” said the 16-time Grand Slam title winner.

“Last year, they made a video of my 10 titles here. Now they have had to make another video for 11 – it makes me feel like I am ageing.

“Thanks to everyone for making the tournament so special and thanks to my family who have been with me even when things have not been so smooth.”

Tsitsipas, 19 years old and ranked 63, was the first Greek man to make an ATP final since Nicholas Kalogeropoulos in Des Moines back in 1973.

He was also the youngest Barcelona finalist since Nadal in 2005.

“Stefanos, you had an incredible week. You have a great future and I wish you great success,” added Nadal of an opponent who will become just the second teenager in the world top 50 next week after Canada’s Denis Shapovalov.

Nadal needed just 77 minutes to claim victory on Sunday.

After racing through the opening set, he was quickly 3-0 up in the second before Tsitsipas carved out a degree of hope in the fourth game when he had two break points.

They were quickly saved by nadal who then claimed the title on a third match point in the seventh game when the teenager dumped a one-handed backhand into the net. 

Provided by AFP Sport

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Rafael Nadal on course for 11th Monte Carlo Masters title after crushing quarter-final win over Dominic Thiem

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Nadal dropped just two games in the win over Thiem.

Rafael Nadal crushed fifth seed Dominic Thiem 6-0, 6-2 to romp into the Monte Carlo Masters semi-finals on Friday as he stepped up his bid for an 11th title in style.

A tight match had been anticipated, but Nadal produced one of the most dominant wins of his career as Thiem fell to pieces in the Monaco sunshine.

The Austrian didn’t get on the scoreboard until the 10th game, drawing loud cheers from the crowd.

But it was a ruthless performance from the 16-time Grand Slam champion, who has to successfully defend the title this week to remain ahead of Roger Federer at the top of the world rankings.

“Here I think I played great… Have been a great day for me, and a very good result against a very difficult rival,” said Nadal.

The Spaniard is now just two wins away from a record 31st Masters title, after winning 32 consecutive sets on clay.

Nadal will face Grigor Dimitrov in his 13th Monte Carlo semi-final on Saturday, but the Bulgarian will need a massive improvement from his win over David Goffin if he’s to stand a chance of claiming a second career victory against the 10-time champion.

“It’s difficult to play better than today,” admitted Nadal.

“Being honest, I have to recognise that. But my goal is to rest and to try to wake up tomorrow again with the same energy and to go on court with the same mentality, try to play close to the way that I played today.”

Nadal started as if he knew Thiem was a potential threat, holding to love before breaking the 24-year-old at the first time of asking.

Thiem was not serving at the same level he managed in his win over two-time champion Novak Djokovic on Thursday, and although he staved off five break points in game four, he dumped a forehand into the net to gift Nadal a 4-0 lead.

Thiem was struggling, but Nadal barely missed a shot in a near-perfect opening set that he wrapped up with another strong return.

It was the 12th time Nadal had whitewashed a set against a top-10 player, and he got the second set underway with another love hold.

Nadal will now face Dimitrov after his Thiem thrashing.

Nadal will now face Dimitrov after his Thiem thrashing.

Thiem was wilting in the sweltering conditions and under the pressure from the other side of the net, and then back-to-back miscued forehands saw him lose an eighth straight game.

The Austrian, a two-time French Open semi-finalist, finally held his serve to trail 3-1 and deny Nadal the first 6-0, 6-0 victory of his career on the ATP Tour.

The 31-year-old brought up match point with a searing forehand winner, and completed a 68-minute demolition as Thiem fired a backhand into the net.

Dimitrov benefitted from a second-set collapse by Goffin to reach the semi-finals for the first time with a 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) victory.

The 26-year-old Bulgarian got the better of a nervy Goffin in a repeat of last year’s ATP Tour Finals final.

The pair will team up later on Friday in the doubles quarter-finals, but there was no charity on offer from Dimitrov towards his partner turned opponent.

Dimitrov has struggled on clay in the past and has never passed the French Open third round, but he was too strong for Goffin in the principality as he fought back from 5-1 down in the second set.

“Yes, for sure he’s the favourite. Yes, he has a great record. Yes, he’s the best player on clay. That definitely doesn’t discourage me,” said the fourth seed.

“That excites me to get out on Saturday and play my match, simple as that.”

Kei Nishikori overcame a blip at the end of the second set to see off second seed Marin Cilic and reach his first Masters semi-final since Canada in July 2016.

The Japanese only returned from a right wrist injury in January, but played one of his best matches this year to beat Cilic 6-4, 6-7 (1/7), 6-3 in a rematch of the Croatian’s 2014 US Open final victory.

He will next face either Richard Gasquet or Alexander Zverev in the last four.

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