Rafael Nadal: ‘I do not want to take anything away from Denis’

Rafael Nadal failed to claim the 11th Rome title following a 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 loss to Denis Shapovalov in two hours and 37 minutes in the third round. Nadal experienced the worst Rome Masters loss since 2008 after struggling with a foot injury from the middle of the second set, giving his best to stay in touch but losing steam and hitting the exit door. Rafa earned four breaks in the first two sets, claiming the opening set in style but struggling from the next one after failing to move as he wanted. The Canadian landed 30 service winners and had the upper hand with over 30 winners. He could not find his A-game in the opening set, and Rafa broke him in games four and six to grab it 6-1 in 42 minutes.

Rafael Nadal lost to Denis Shapovalov in the Rome Masters third round.

Shapovalov fended off break points in the second set’s first game and gained a boost from there. He broke Nadal in the second game and saved a break chance in the fifth to forge a 4-1 advantage. Nadal made one last push and broke at love in game seven to reduce the deficit and improve his chances despite an evident struggle. The Spaniard denied break points in the next one to lock the result at 4-4. Rafa fended off a match point in game ten after Denis’ backhand error to stay alive and send the pressure to the other side. Shapovalov stayed calm and grabbed a break at 6-5 to wrap up the set and become a clear favorite. They exchanged breaks at the beginning of the final set, and it was all about Shapovalov after that. The Canadian claimed four straight games from 2-2 to emerge at the top and dethrone a ten-time winner. 

“I have my foot pain back, and it hurts a lot. I’m not injured; I’m a player living with an injury; it’s nothing new. My issues started in the middle of the second set, and I could not play. Still, I do not want to take anything away from Denis; well done to him. I do not know what can happen in the following days. I take many painkillers because otherwise, I would not be able to practice or compete. This pain knocks the happiness out of you,” Rafael Nadal said.