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Sports News | Rafael Nadal beats Denis Shapovalov at the Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia – After missing the match he has long played with so much passion, Rafael Nadal has had ample opportunity to learn about tennis at this Australian Open.

At 35, his latest return from injury now finds him in the semi-finals, just two wins away after breaking his three-way tie with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer and claiming his 21st Grand Slam singles title.

But it also found him briefly on the defensive on Tuesday after his opponent, Canadian Denis Shapovalov, said Nadal benefited from favoritism in the quarter-finals, which Nadal won by taking command of the fifth set to win. , 6-3, 6-4, 4. -6, 3-6, 6-3, in four hours and eight minutes.

Shapovalov didn’t take the loss well, smashing his racquet onto the blue hard court at Rod Laver Arena immediately after his final volley drifted. It was a stark contrast to Nadal, who has never broken (or thrown) a racket in anger during a match in his nearly 20-year professional career.

But Shapovalov was both discouraged and disappointed by Nadal, the Spanish champion whom Shapovalov first met as a nine-year-old ball boy at the Canadian Open in Montreal and then beat, Hollywood-style, in the same city in their first game in 2017. .

Even though Shapovalov was wide-eyed about the Spaniard, he didn’t hold back on Tuesday: complaining during and after the game that Nadal was being given more time between points than allowed.

After winning the first set, Nadal changed clothes and was slow to leave his chair after the referee, Carlos Bernardes, called “Time”. Shapovalov took the balls and prepared to serve while waiting, and when Nadal finally arrived on the court, Shapovalov approached Bernardes and said Nadal should have been penalized for the delay.

Shapovalov later repeated, “You are all corrupt”, to Bernardes before serving.

Shapovalov, 22, received no code violation for the comment and later said, apologetically, “I think I misspoke.” But he also complained during the game that Nadal was stretching the spirit of the rules by taking an extended break before the final set for a combined medical time-out and trip to the bathroom.

Shapovalov questioned Bernardes at length as they awaited Nadal’s return, saying he hadn’t been allowed to combine the two in a past tournament. Shapovalov repeated his accusations of favoritism at a press conference after his defeat.

“They are legends of the game,” he said of stars like Nadal, “but when you step onto the pitch it should be equal.”

Bernardes, a veteran chair umpire from Brazil, gave Nadal a time violation for taking too long to serve in the fourth set. Bernardes and Nadal didn’t always agree, and Bernardes was barred from working Nadal’s matches during a cooling-off period in 2015. But that informal ban soon ended.

Nadal dismissed Shapovalov’s accusations of favoritism and said it was common practice to take extra time to change clothes and equipment after a set played in such scorching conditions.

“I think he was really wrong,” Nadal said in Spanish of Shapovalov. “When you lose a match like this, you get frustrated. I have a lot of affection for Denis. I think he’s a good guy with a lot of talent, the talent to win several Grand Slam tournaments. No way I don’t want to argue with him. But I think he’s wrong. He’s young and when you’re young you make mistakes.

Nadal observed that the rules have been tightened in recent seasons to make it harder to favor the elite or any player due to the advent of online electronic calling, shot clocks between points and , this season, stricter time limits for bathroom breaks.

“You have less room now to influence anything,” said Nadal, who added he was not interested in gaining an advantage on the pitch.

Rafael Nadal beats Denis Shapovalov at the Australian Open

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