Shapovalov moves on to face Nadal in next round of the Italian Open
Denis Shapovalov and Robin Haase had never met before their Round of 32 match at the 2018 Italian Open on Wednesday, and it took all three sets to determine a winner.
After the opening two sets that required tiebreaks, Shapovalov claimed the deciding third and prevailed over his 31-year-old opponent 7-6(3), 6(5)-7, 6-3, giving the 19-year-old Canadian another win on clay in 2018.
Haase, the Netherlands-born world No. 44, proved to be a difficult out as Shapovalov added another name to the impressive list of players he has beaten over the past year.
It looked like Shapovalov was going to cruise through the first set after breaking Haase's serve to go up 4-2 and then taking the next game, but the Dutchman fought back to eventually force a tiebreak. However, the Canadian ultimately claimed the set, forcing Hasse to try to win consecutive sets to mount a comeback.
Shapovlaov gets broken serving for the first set at 5-4, but hangs on and plays a dominant tiebreak to take it 7-6(5).
The second set also required a tiebreak after both players held serve throughout. Shapovalov managed to not be broken despite winning just 45 percent of his second serves and hitting three double-faults, as his first serve percentage was near-perfect.
However, Haase would outlast the teenager in the tiebreak, making a third and deciding set a reality.
After two marathon sets, it looked like the third would go the same way. Even after Shapovalov broke Hasse's serve to go up 3-1, the Dutchman answered with a break of his own.
Shapovalov then broke his opponent's serve again, jumping out to a 4-2 lead, and from there it was academic as youngster continued his good form on clay with another victory over an ATP Tour veteran.
Shapovalov advances to Thursday's Round of 16, where he'll face Rafael Nadal for the first time since the teenager stunned the Spaniard at last year's Rogers Cup in Montreal, a win that very much was the jumping off point for Shapovalov's meteoric rise over the past year-plus.
This time the men will meet on clay, a surface on which Nadal has been the most dominant player of his generation.
The win Wednesday against Haase was also Shapovalov's first action since jumping into the top-ranked spot among Canadian male players, following his opening round victory in Rome against Tomáš Berdych.