Nadal-Shapovalov: Can #NextGenATP Canadian Repeat His Montreal Performance?
Fans have probably become pros at it by now, but at the time, when Denis Shapovalov upset No. 2 Rafael Nadal at the 2017 Rogers Cup in Montreal last August, millions of tennis enthusiasts likely had to consult the Internet to learn how to pronounce the #NextGenATP Canadian's surname.
Read & Watch Flashback: Shapovalov Stuns Nadal At 2017 Montreal
By now, however, the 19-year-old left-hander has become a household name for tennis aficionados, a status aided by his semi-final run in Canada, where he become the youngest ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-finalist (since 1990). Last year, Shapovalov also reached the fourth round at the US Open and qualified for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.
(It's “sha-poh-VAH-lov” by the way.)
This year, Shapovalov has shown he's here to stay on the ATP World Tour. He reached his second Masters 1000 semi-final last week in Madrid, clinching a spot in the Top 30 of the ATP Rankings (No. 29). On Tuesday, the left-hander guaranteed his status as top Canadian come 21 May by upsetting Czech veteran Tomas Berdych. A day later, he secured a rematch with Nadal by beating Dutchman Robin Haase in three sets at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome.
Few, however, will expect a repeat performance from Shapovalov. Nadal is 15-1 on clay this year and has dropped only two sets – both of which came last week during his Mutua Madrid Open quarter-final against Dominic Thiem.
View FedEx ATP Head2Head for the following matches & vote for who you think will win!Nadal vs Shapovalov | Del Potro vs Goffin | Djokovic vs Ramos-Vinolas
The Spaniard, No. 2 in the ATP Rankings, has looked like his dominant self so far in Rome. He dropped only one game during his opener on Wednesday against two-time ATP World Tour titlist Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Spaniard is searching for a record eighth Rome title after winning his 11th titles at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Nishikori) and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Tsitsipas).
On Court Pietrangeli, fans will be treated to a Top-10 matchup when No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro and No. 10 David Goffin face off for the third time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series (1-1). Del Potro is looking to make his first quarter-final of the clay-court season after falling in the third round last week in Madrid.
Goffin, meanwhile, will try to pad what's already been a good start to the European clay-court swing. The Belgian made the quarter-finals in Monte-Carlo, the semi-finals in Barcelona and the third round last week in the Spanish capital.
Following Nadal-Shapovalov on Court Centrale, Novak Djokovic will try to beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas for the sixth consecutive time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series (5-0). Djokovic, on the comeback from right elbow surgery, is also looking to make his first quarter-final of 2018.
In other action, two-time quarter-finalist (2017, 2011) Marin Cilic of Croatia meets France's Benoit Paire; second seed Alexander Zverev will try to win his 11th consecutive match against Brit Kyle Edmund, who's at a career-high of No. 19 in the ATP Rankings; and 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta plays Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene.