01/25 06:57 CST Nadal fends off Shapovalov, advances to semis in Australia
Nadal fends off Shapovalov, advances to semis in Australia
By JOHN PYE
AP Sports Writer
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) --- With another Australian Open semifinal spot
secured after a four-hour, five-set victory, Rafael Nadal looked toward his
support team in Rod Laver Arena and nodded his head.
It was like he was just confirming the plan: Five wins down, two to go in his
bid for a men's record 21st major title.
On the other side of the net, 14th-seeded Denis Shapovalov broke his racket on
the hard blue court after a frustrating 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3 loss to Nadal,
who later acknowledged he felt "destroyed" physically on a hot Tuesday
There were plenty of momentum-shifting moments, including Nadal needing
attention for a stomach ailment in the third and fourth sets after dominating
the first two.
Shapovalov openly complained to chair umpire Carlos Bernardes during the
quarterfinal match about Nadal getting longer breaks than players usually are
entitled to, and taking too long between points.
He took a few shots at Nadal in his post-match news conference, too, saying
he's "100%" convinced the 35-year-old Spaniard receives special treatment.
At a tournament where he's clinched the title only once (2009) and had lost
seven of his previous 13 quarterfinals --- by far his worst conversion rate at
any of the four major tournaments --- Nadal looked vulnerable in the third and
But following a seven-minute break --- when Nadal left the court and went to
the locker room --- between the last point of the fourth set and his first
serve in the fifth, he recovered sufficiently to save a break point with an
ace, hold serve and then break Shapovalov for a 2-0 lead.
"I don't know, was a little bit of miracle," Nadal said of his revival. "I was
destroyed honestly physically. But my serve worked well, and for me, every game
that I was winning with my serve was a victory, no?"
He rejected any assertion that he gets any special treatment from umpires or
referees, and added that Shapovalov was young and said he would get over it.
"I honestly feel sorry for him. I think he played a great match for a long
time," Nadal said. "Of course is tough to accept to lose a match like this,
especially after I was feeling destroyed and probably he felt that, and then I
was able to manage to win.
"I wish him all the very best ... probably he will understand later on after he
thinks the proper way that probably he was not right today."
Nadal shares the men's record of 20 major singles titles with Roger Federer and
Novak Djokovic, and he's got an inside run with the absence of his long-time
rivals at Melbourne Park. Federer continues to recover from knee surgery, and
Djokovic was deported for failing to meet Australia's strict COVID-19
"I respect everything that Rafa has done and I think he's an unbelievable
player. But there's got to be some boundaries," Shapovalov said. "It's just so
frustrating as a player. You feel like you're not just playing against the
player; you're playing against the umpires, you're playing against so much more.
"Physically I feel fine. Just emotionally more, just sucks to lose that one,"
the Wimbledon semifinalist added. "Definitely felt like I had it on my racket.
And towards third, fourth, fifth set I felt like I was the better player, had
more chances. Just one bad game for me."
Nadal will get two days off before Friday's semifinal match against either
Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini or No. 17 Gael Monfils.
"I'm not 21 anymore!" said Nadal, who was sidelined with injuries after last
year's French Open and then had to overcome COVID-19. "After this ... great to
have two days off.
"I felt quite good physically in terms of movement. I really believe I'm going
to be ready for the semifinals."
The women's quarterfinals were over in straight sets, with 2017 U.S. Open
runner-up Madison Keys beating French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova 6-3, 6-2
in the Day 9 opener on Rod Laver Arena and top-ranked Ash Barty advancing with
a 6-2, 6-0 win over No. 21 Jessica Pegula.
Barty is back in the semifinals at Melbourne Park for the second time in three
years; Keys is back seven years after losing her first Grand Slam semifinal to
Serena Williams in Australia.
Barty, who won the Wimbledon title last year and the French Open in 2019, wants
to become the first Australian woman to win the Australian Open singles title
In her best run to date, she lost in the 2020 semifinals to eventual champion
"I've grown as a person. I've grown as a player," Barty said. "I feel like I'm
a more complete player."
Keys continued her resurgent 2022 season, extending her winning streak to 10
matches, including a title run in a tuneup event, and 11 overall for the year.
She only won 11 matches in total in 2021, when her year-end ranking slumped to
"I did everything I could to rest this off-season and focus on starting fresh
and new ... starting from zero and not focusing on last year," Keys said. "I
think it's going well so far."
Krejcikova took a medical timeout while trailing 5-2 in the first set, with the
temperature heading toward 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit).
"It was the heat with some physical conditions that started to bother me after
five games," she said. "I mean, from there on, you know, I just couldn't put it
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