TennisSection previews the 2021 Rome Open as Rafael Nadal (2) meets Denis Shapovalov (13) in the Round of 16 on Thursday, May 13th, 2021.
Will Denis Shapovalov be able to use his prior success against Rafael Nadal to cause what would be the biggest upset of his career so far? Will Rafael Nadal build on that very solid performance in his first match against Jannik Sinner? Both players can win this match if they are on top of their game, but only one will make their way to the Quarter-finals of the 2021 Rome Open. Who will it be?
Denis Shapovalov finally put on a solid performance on clay after having struggled to get out of the gates over the last month. Denis Shapovalov did not have to beat any real threats here, beating Stefano Travaglia in the Round of 32 in straight sets 7-6/6-2. However, now, Denis will need to raise his level dramatically compared to what it has been for the last month or so, as he meets Rafael Nadal. Denis has beaten him before, but this was many years ago, as well as having been on a hard court rather than a clay court. Can Denis Shapovalov’s flamboyant style of play, as well as his ability to move opponents around the court give him a chance to cause the upset?
Rafael Nadal came through a tight 2-set match against Jannik Sinner, beating the young Italian in straight sets 7-5/6-4. Nadal was able to maintain his composure during the tight moments in the second set, winning 4 games in a row to win the set and the match at the end. Rafael Nadal is increasing his speed and spin on the ball here in Rome, compared to Madrid, as these conditions better suit his playing style. However, in 2/3 tournaments Rafael Nadal has played in, a NextGen player has been able to cause an upset and get him out of the tournament. Will Rafael Nadal be able to prevent Denis Shapovalov from doing the same, and book himself a spot in the Quarter-finals of the 2021 Rome Open?
Rafael Nadal and Denis Shapovalov have met 3 times before, with Rafael Nadal leading the head to head 2-1. They last met in the Final of the 2019 Davis Cup where Rafa won in straight sets 6-3/7-6. Shapovalov has only beaten Nadal once and this was 4 years ago. Here, on clay, in Rome, I do not see the Canadian youngster being able to cause another upset. Shapovalov has been struggling to beat the likes of Corentin Moutet, so we shouldn’t even be thinking of him standing a chance against a great champion like Rafael Nadal at the 2021 Rome Open.
Free Tennis Pick and Prediction: Rafael Nadal in 2 Sets.