Rafael Nadal keeps rolling in Rome: Nadal avenges 2017 hard-court loss to Denis Shapovalov

Ricky Dimon in ATP 17 May 2018
  • Rafael Nadal beats Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 6-1 in the Rome Masters third round
  • Only two active players now have a winning record against the Spaniard
  • Nadal's reward is a quarterfinal showdown with Fabio Fognini on Friday
ROME, ITALY - MAY 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates his victory over Denis Shapovalov at the Internazionali BNL dItalia on May 17, 2018. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal makes quick 6-4, 6-1 work of Denis Shapovalov in the Rome third round on Thursday. Next up for Nadal is a quarterfinal contest against Fabio Fognini.

ATP Internazionali BNL d'Italia tennis is live from Rome from 13-20 May (geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)

Heading into Thursday's action at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, only three active players held a winning record against Rafael Nadal.

That number is down to two, because Denis Shapovalov saw his 1-0 lifetime record in the head-to-head series with Nadal come to an end. When they squared of last summer, Shapovalov not only benefited from a hard-court surface but also had home-court advantage in Canada (at the Rogers Cup in Montreal).

Shapovalov had no such advantages in Rome. And it showed.

With his beloved clay beneath him at a tournament he has won on seven occasions, Nadal dropped a mere five points in eight service games as he destroyed the 19-year-old 6-4, 6-1 in one hour and 22 minutes. The top seed finished with more winners (16) than unforced errors (14), whereas Shapovalov was negative-15 with his ratio (14 to 29). 

Denis Shapovalov hits a return against Rafael Nadal. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO/ AFP/Getty)
By Nadal's standards, 6-4, 6-1 is somewhat close--at least for the opening set. But this one was not even as close as the score suggests. Shapovalov did not earn a single break point, never even got to deuce once in a return game, and extended Nadal to 40-30 on just one occasion. The word No. 29 managed to snag four games in the first set by saving three break points to begin the match and a whopping five at 1-1.

It started to go downhill in a hurry, however, when Shapovalov netted a backhand down break point at 3-3. Nadal closed out the opener with ease from there before adding breaks in the first, fifth, and seventh games of set two.

ATP Rome Live Stream: Live tennis from the Foro Italico

Next up for the 16-time Grand Slam champion is a quarterfinal showdown against Italy's own Fabio Fognini. Their head-to-head series, which stands at 10-3 in Nadal's favor, began at this same Rome event in 2013 when Nadal cruised 6-1, 6-3. Fognini earned three victories in 2015 (twice on clay in Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona prior to a five-set upset at the U.S. Open), but Nadal was won five times in a row--including at three Masters 1000 tournaments last year.

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Rafael Nadal keeps rolling in Rome: Nadal avenges 2017 hard-court loss to Denis Shapovalov

Rafael Nadal loses only five points on serve in the entire match as he takes care of Denis Shapovalov during third-round action at the Rome Masters.

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