Italian Open 2021: Rafael Nadal vs Denis Shapovalov Preview, Head-to-Head, Prediction

Published 05/13/2021, 1:08 AM EDT
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 12, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action during his round of 32 match against Italy’s Jannik Sinner REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane


The nine-time champion Rafael Nadal will meet Canada’s most promising talent Denis Shapovalov at the Italian Open 2021. The winner will book a seat in the quarterfinals.

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Rafael Nadal vs. Denis Shapovalov: Preview

In his opening match, the 20-time Grand Slam champion locked horns with Italian teenage muscle Jannik Sinner. Although the 19-year-old pushed the Spaniard to his limit, Rafael Nadal came through the match 7-5, 6-4.

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Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 12, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action during his round of 32 match against Italy’s Jannik Sinner REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

Seemingly, his road to the Rome final is getting trickier. After steering past Sinner, Rafa has found 22-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov up his sleeves.

However, the Spaniard already has one title and two quarterfinals under his belt in this clay season. To keep up his quarterfinals streak, the 34-year-old must pass the Canadian test.

Notably, the current World No.14 hasn’t had much success in 2021. Denis presently has an even 9-9 win-loss record in the ATP Tour as of 10th May 2021.

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 12, 2021 Canada’s Denis Shapovalov during his third round match against Canada’s Felix Auger Aliassime REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

Nonetheless, the Canadian has shown positive signs of improvement in his two previous matches at the Italian Open. He outlived Polish Kamil Majchrzak 6-1, 6-3 and Italian Stefanos Travaglia 7-6(2), 6-3.

Moving forward, Denis will take the ultimate test in his next match. But does he have enough experience to take down the record nine-time champion in Rome?

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Nadal vs. Shapovalov: Head-to-Head

Interestingly, Nadal is 2-1 ahead of Shapovalov in the head-to-head battles. Therefore, the Canadian has a chance to level things out.

Moreover, the duo once met before in Rome in 2018, where the Spaniard won comfortably. Shapovaolov’s only win against the Mallorcan came at the 2017 Canadian Masters in three close sets.

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Nadal vs. Shapovalov: Prediction

Nadal will come as a favorite in this match. Given his performance against Sinner, the Spaniard looks eager to play difficult opponents and prepare a base for his Roland Garros campaign.

Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 12, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal during his round of 32 match against Italy’s Jannik Sinner REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

Most importantly, his sheer dominance on clay is as formidable as ever. Instead, Rafa is improving his top level in every match.

Consequently, Denis would need substantial artillery to get past the King of Clay, Nadal. Exposing the Spaniard’s forehand with his brutal force will surely be in the Canadian’s mind.

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Above all, both are genuine competitors and love to fight for every single point. Conclusively, fans cannot afford to lose this pre-quarter matchup at the Italian Open 2021.

Prediction: Rafael Nadal def. Denis Shapovalov in straight sets.

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Purav Joshi

786 articles

Purav Joshi is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having a degree in Films, Television and Media Production, he guided his passion for writing and journalism into the sport of aces and rallies. With over 2 years of experience as a copywriter, Purav has authored over 500 tennis articles.

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