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20-time major winner Rafael Nadal is through to his sixth semifinal at the Australian Open after ousting Canadian Denis Shapovalov in five sets.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Nadal who went up two sets to love before the Canadian fought back to send it to a fifth. The Spanish champion looked down and out, requiring a medical timeout to deal with stomach issues.
Yet, as he so often does, Nadal kept his composure in the important moments and prevailed 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3 in four hours and eight minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
Post-match, Nadal was relieved to have come through the fifth set after struggling with his stomach issue.
“[It] Was a little bit of a miracle. I was destroyed honestly physically. But my serve worked well, and for me, every game that I was winning with my serve was a victory,” Nadal said in his press conference.
“That was my goal, just try to win games with my serve and expect for the chance on the return.
“I started to feel bad honestly at the end of the second. It was very warm out there today, yeah, and the conditions were hard.
“I think of course all these kind of matches helps me to be in better shape, but we can't forget that I didn't play much tennis for such a long time, no? So under these very hard conditions, is difficult for me.
"I was playing great, I think, for the first two sets, and then I had my chances at the beginning of the third with one love-30 and then 15-30 with the passing shot that I had down the line. He started to serve huge. I was feeling more tired, and I didn't have chances late, no, because I was not able to hold the rallies.
“But here I am. Being in the semifinals means a lot to me having a victory against a great player after all the things that I went through, so it's amazing news, no? I'm super happy.”
The match wasn’t without controversy, with Shapovalov taking issue with the time Nadal was allowed between a change of ends. The Canadian was involved in a stern conversation with umpire Carlos Bernades before declaring that all umpires are “corrupt”.
Shapovalov seemed to put his frustration aside as he fought his way back into the match in the third and fourth sets. Then, with momentum heavily in the Canadian’s favour, Nadal took a medical timeout followed directly by a bathroom break at the end of the fourth set.
When play resumed, Nadal looked like a new player and quickly raced out to a 3-0 lead.
From then on it was a mere formality as Nadal eased to a 6-3 scoreline, booking his place in the semis where he awaits the winner of Matteo Berrettini and Gael Monfils.