Nadal hits a return shot during his game against Shapovalov. / afp

Rafael Nadal shows what he’s made of

The tennis player reaches his seventh Australian Open semi-finals after surviving against Shapovalov and will face Italian Berrettini early on Friday morning

ENRIC GARDINER

Rafael Nadal overcame the thorn in his side that is the Australian Open quarter-finals. The tennis player has fallen in that round of the tournament up to seven times in his career, more than any other Gran Slam. However, the game against Shapovalov was no walk in the park and it was the Spaniards biggest test since arriving in Australia.

Both men played out an intense, five-set match in which the young Canadian managed to claw back two sets after Nadal won the first couple. But the Majorcan managed to escape and unearth a well-earned victory (6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6 and 6-3).

This result now leaves him just two wins away from picking up his 21st Grand Slam title and it would allow him to become the most decorated tennis player ever.

Shapovalov was very close to causing an upset. The Israeli-born Canadian has a heartwarming backstory with Nadal, as he was his ballboy in the 2008 Canada Masters before going on to defeat him nine years later in the same tournament. Now he will play his first ever Australian Open quarter-finals. But a lot of time has passed since that win, and Nadal has always come out on top whenever they faced each other.

Illness

After feeling very sick for a few days, Nadal said, “I don’t know if I’ll have recovered in time for the semi-finals, I have a few days ahead, but I’m no longer 21 years old. I’m very happy for where I am, I think I’ll be able to recover. I’m playing well and it’s possible that I can rest tomorrow [Wednesday] and train on Thursday. I didn’t even know if I could play again a few months ago, and now look at where I am.”

The Spaniard’s opponent will be Italian Matteo Berrettini, who defeated Gael Monfils (6-4, 6-4, 3-6 and 6-2) to make it to his third Australian Open semi-finals. It will also be the second time both tennis players meet after the semi-final played in New York in 2019, which Nadal won.

The match is due to be played in the early hours of Friday morning.