- On paper, Rafael Nadal was due to play Alexander Zverev. Instead, he gets No. 14 seed Denis Shapovalov
- Nadal leads the Shapovalov vs Nadal head-to-head 3-1, but Shapovalov is in impressive form, while Nadal remains a little rusty
- Read on as we break down the match and make a prediction
Because of his long absence from the ATP Tour (since Wimbledon 2021), Rafael Nadal made an exception to his usual practice and came to play the Australian Open not fully prepared, and with no expectations.
He wanted to compete. And regardless of the outcome, he was just happy to be out there.
Denis Shapovalov vs Rafael Nadal Odds
| Denis Shapovalov (CAN)||+4.5 (-115)||+210||O 37.5 (-120)|
| Rafael Nadal (ESP)||-4.5 (-115)||-175||U 37.5 (-110)|
Odds as of Jan. 24 at Caesars Sportsbook
Nadal is a sizeable favorite against his quarterfinals opponent Denis Shapovalov tonight in the Australian Open odds.
Vulnerable Nadal Still unbeaten in 2022
Despite his lack of match play, Nadal had little trouble winning a pre-Australian Open tuneup event on the same site at Melbourne Park.
It gave him some matches before taking on the main event. And some confidence that it was the right decision. And that he had a chance.
If the Mallorcan hasn’t won the title often in Australia (after Novak Djokovic was withdrawn, he remained the only title holder in the field – but it was all the way back in 2009), he has had some deep runs in Melbourne.
As he well remembers.
Denis Shapovalov vs Rafael Nadal Head-to-Head
|22 (April 15, 1999)||Age||35 (June 3, 1986)|
|Tel Aviv, Israel||Birthplace||Manacor, Mallorca|
|1||Career ATP Singles Titles||89|
|0||Career Grand Slam Singles Titles||20|
|No. 10 (Sept. 21, 2020)||Career High Ranking||No. 1 (Aug. 18, 2008)|
|No. 14||Current Ranking||No. 5|
|$8.113.130||Career Prize Money||$125,050,235|
|7-1||2021 Won/Loss record||7-0|
|1||Career Head to Head||3|
Only a Few Frail Moments in Nadal’s Run
So far, there have been a few “un-Nadal” moments.
Notably, the one set he lost through his first four rounds came at the hands of No. 28 seed Karen Khachanov.
It wasn’t so much that Nadal lost a set. It was the way he lost it. The outcome turned on one break, and in the game Nadal was broken he had led 40-15.
But he quickly shut the door and won the fourth set against Khachanov – and the match – 6-1.
The 35-year-old nearly lost a first-set tiebreak against another lefty, Adrian Mannarino. But he pulled that one – which lasted nearly a half hour – out 16-14. And he rolled from there.
Denis Shapovalov vs Rafael Nadal Match History
|2021||Masters Rome (R16)||Outdoor Clay||3-6, 6-4 7-6 (3)||Nadal|
|2019||Davis Cup Finals (F)||Indoor Hard||6-3, 7-6 (7)||Nadal|
|2019||Masters Paris (SF)||Indoor Hard||WALKOVER||Shapovalov|
|2018||Masters Rome (R16)||Outdoor Clay||6-4, 6-1||Nadal|
|2017||Masters Canada (R16)||Outdoor Hard||3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4)||Shapovalov|
Shapovalov in Fine Form
Shapovalov, who is in the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time in his career, hardly had a breezy route through the draw.
The Canadian needed four sets to get past Laslo Djere of Serbia. And then he needed five sets to squeak past unseeded Soonwoo Kwon of Korea.
Shapovalov handled huge-serving American Reilly Opelka in four sets in the third round.
In short, he battled his way into that round-of-16 matchup against Zverev.
"I gotta look at myself as well, today was just, in my opinion awful from my side" 😞
Alexander Zverev gives a disheartened interview following his exit from the Australian Open after a straight-sets loss to Denis Shapovalov. pic.twitter.com/ow6KuaQKPB
— Sky Sports Tennis (@SkySportsTennis) January 23, 2022
And while Zverev said it was the worst match – by far – he had played since last summer (and he wasn’t far wrong), the truth was that Shapovalov was power, unflinching and imperious.
He won in straight sets.
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Lefty vs Lefty Matchup
That’s in large part due to the fact that he … doesn’t have to face himself.
For his part, Shapovalov is under .500 (13-16), including three losses to Nadal.
Shapovalov has gone to a third-set tiebreak with Nadal twice – once winning, as a naive 17-year-old. Last year, he lost by the thinnest of margins on Nadal’s favorite surface, red clay.
The confident Canadian has belief. Which most people playing Nadal do not have.
Will it be enough? We’re backing Nadal in this one. But many give Shapovalov more than a puncher’s chance to at least win one set.
In the debilitating afternoon heat, Nadal’s heavily-topspun forehand will bounce even higher than usual.
Not the tallest of players, Shapovalov will find it a challenge to handle it and still maintain the aggressive game he needs to have a prayer of winning.
Nadal sees a path to Grand Slam title No. 21. Which would be historic. He will be a formidable opponent even if Shapovalov is playing his best tennis.
Best Bet: Nadal in four sets (+285)