Ace Canadian tennis player Denis Shapovalov is expecting a “long battle” with Spanish stalwart Rafael Nadal when the two clash in the Australian Open quarterfinal here on Tuesday.
Shapovalov, ranked 14th in the world, upset world No. 3 and Tokyo Olympics champion Alexander Zverev of Germany on Sunday to reach the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park for the first time. The 22-year-old Canadian knows it will not be easy against Nadal, who is bidding to become the first men’s player to win 21 Grand Slams in singles.
“I’m definitely expecting a long battle out there. Obviously he makes you play a lot. His defence is very good. He’s very good at what he does,” Shapovalov was quoted as saying by atptour.com on Monday.
“So (I’m going to) have to try to play my game, take it to him and keep doing what I have been doing, playing patient, fighting for every point, and just picking my spots to play aggressively.”
Shapovalov made his first big move on the ATP Tour at 18 in 2017, when he defeated Nadal in Montreal. Four years later, the Canadian has an opportunity to spring another upset to reach his second major semifinal.
It has been a heartening start for Shapovalov and Canadian tennis overall this season, with compatriot Felix Auger-Aliassime too still alive in the competition.
“I think what we’ve (Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov) been doing has been amazing, especially with the start of the season for Canada,” Shapovalov said. “And what we’re doing in Australia here is special, as well. Hopefully a lot of Canadians are able to watch.”
Auger-Aliassime is scheduled to take on 27th seed Marin Cilic in the fourth round here later on Monday.
Shapovalov has come back strongly after testing COVID-positive upon his arrival in Australia and had to quarantine.
“There were a lot of doubts once I got to Australia with the quarantine, having gotten COVID, not sure how I would take it, not sure I would be able to play ATP Cup,” Shapovalov said.
“Obviously very happy with the way I’m feeling, first of all, coming out of quarantine, playing ATP Cup, had a little bit of doubts. (I) wasn’t ready to play the first match and kind of worked my way through the tournament and started to feel back to normal towards the end of that week.
“So it was a good sign. And then coming here, I had a couple of aches and wasn’t feeling 100 per cent physically. So wasn’t practicing that much, to be honest, and (was) just trying to prepare the body as best as possible.”