Denis Shapovalov sets up Rafael Nadal clash

Denis Shapovalov stunned Alexander Zverev to set up a quarterfinal clash against Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open

Denis Shapovalov stuns Rafael Nadal in Rome

Denis Shapovalov knocked out World No 3 Alexander Zverev to set up a quarterfinal showdown against Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open.

The Canadian 14th seed, who had played three tough matches to get there, brushed past an inconsistent Zverev 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 in the fourth round.

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“It’s probably the one I least expected to finish in three,” said Shapovalov in his on-court interview.

“I’m very happy with my performance, definitely happy with where my game is at.”

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Having also come through the big-serving test of Reilly Opelka in the third round, World No. 14 Shapovalov’s return game looked finely tuned on Margaret Court Arena.

He broke Zverev early for 3-1, the German dropping just his third service game of the tournament on the way to also losing his first set in Melbourne this year.

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Shapovalov looked sharp throughout, hitting 35 winners and winning 81 per cent (22/27) of points at the net.

Zverev battled but could find no answers as the 22-year-old Canadian sealed victory to complete just his second win against a Top 5 player and reach a third Grand Slam quarterfinal.

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Earlier in the day, Nadal beat Adrian Mannarino 7-6(14), 6-2, 6-2.

Nadal holds a 3-1 head-to-head lead over Shapovalov, and the Canadian knows what to expect from the 20-time Grand Slam champion.

‘One of my worst matches’

Zverev was disappointed his performance in Melbourne and believes he never got into the right rhythm.

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“I was playing bad the whole week. To be honest, I didn’t think I was playing that great,” Zverev said.

“Except against John Millman maybe I had a good match, but the other two matches weren’t great either.”

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“To be honest, there is not much I can say or take away that was positive from today,” he said about Sunday’s loss to Shapovalov.

“Maybe since Wimbledon, [it’s] one of the worst matches I have played. It’s just tough.”

The 24-year-old was bidding to win his first major title, and a chance of becoming the No 1 player in the world.

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“At the end of the day, I’ve got to do better. I came here with a goal to win, and maybe to become No. 1 and all that,” the German said. “But if I play like that, I don’t deserve it. It’s as simple as that.

“I think after a match like this, it’s very silly to talk about [No. 1]. I think I need to figure myself out first.”