Nadal passes the pre-test

mind history Monte-Carlo final test for Nadal

Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome

[2] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. [29] Denis Shapovalov (CAN)
Nadal’s fans will never forget their first meeting last year when Shapovalov came back from a set down to upset Nadal at the Masters 1000 in Canada. Nadal did not forget either and knew he had to bring his complete focus to this match. It took a while for Nadal to crack the backhand of his opponent; however, once he did, there was not much the Canadian could do to stop him.

Shapovalov’s shots were neutralized by the clay and Nadal’s superior mobility on the surface gave him another advantage. Add to that Nadal’s physical fitness and ability to work the points and Shapovalov was in trouble as evident by the number of break point opportunities Nadal had in this match. Credit the young Canadian for fighting them off to make the first set highly competitive.

In the second set Nadal played freely and confidently and the Canadian got frustrated at the realization that the match was rapidly slipping out of his hands. Nadal won 6-4, 6-1. Up next for Nadal is a meeting with a very dangerous opponent, Fabio Fognini.

Nadal leads their head-to-head 10:3 and has won their last five encounters; however, Fognini has beaten Nadal twice previously on clay. The match that stunned everyone and lingers in the minds of many was the 2015 US Open. Nadal led two sets to none; yet, somehow Fognini came back to win in five sets. However, savvy fans knew that Fognini has always had the game to beat Nadal. It was never a question of a lack of talent, but rather a lack of focus and commitment from the Italian. Thus, tomorrow’s match will be a test for both players.

Will Fognini be focused and inspired enough by the home crowd to upset Nadal?

Or, will Nadal rise to the occasion and silence the Italian crowd with his brilliant play?

Fognini has nothing to lose and that may work in his favor if Nadal starts off tentatively; either way, it could be a very telling match.

SOURCE OF PHOTOS: serveandrally

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