Rafael Nadal stayed on track to reclaim the world number one ranking after recovering from a set down to defeat Fabio Fognini in the quarter-finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
With the home crowd on his side, the flamboyant Fognini threatened to cause an upset when he won the final five games of the first set after trailing 4-1.
But Nadal broke serve at the start of the second set and thereafter was always in control, with Fognini needing treatment for a left knee problem before going down 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Nadal said on Sky Sports: “He played well, it’s true I had a couple of mistakes but he played quick, going for shots without missing much. He put me under pressure. I should not lose two serves in a row but it happened.
“The only thing I can do is accept and keep working for the next set.
Indomitable @RafaelNadal 💪
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) May 18, 2018
“I increased a little bit the level with my forehand, it was something I needed to do. It was a great day to play tennis and a good match.”
Fognini boasts three wins over Nadal in his career, including becoming the first player to beat the great Spaniard from two sets down at a grand slam at the US Open in 2015.
But Nadal had won all five meetings since and, although he was rattled by Fognini’s comeback in the first set, ultimately the Italian could not sustain the brilliance needed to overcome the greatest clay-courter in history.
Having lost top spot in the rankings to Roger Federer following his loss to Dominic Thiem in Madrid last week, Nadal can reclaim it by winning the title in Rome. He will next face either Novak Djokovic or Kei Nishikori.
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.
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.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) April 29, 2018
“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.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) April 29, 2018
Provided by AFP Sport