Australian Open: Rafael Nadal beats Denis Shapovalov in five sets to reach semi-finals

Rafael Nadal again showed the immense fight which has characterised his career as he overcame physical issues to beat Canada’s Denis Shapovalov and reach the Australian Open semi-finals.

Spanish sixth seed Nadal won 6-3 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3, despite struggling physically in the fourth set.

Nadal, whose only title at Melbourne Park came in 2009, needed medication for what seemed to be a stomach issue.

The 35-year-old faces seventh seed Matteo Berrettini in the last four.

Italian Berrettini overcame a fightback by French 17th seed Gael Monfils to win 6-4 6-4 3-6 3-6 6-2 and become the first Italian man to reach the Australian Open semi-finals.

The Wimbledon runner-up earned decisive breaks in the opening two sets before Monfils, buoyed by the vocal support of the Rod Laver crowd, hit back in the third and carried that momentum through to take the fourth and level the match.

But the 35-year-old could not sustain that energy in the decider as Berrettini held his nerve – despite a rowdy fan being ejected – to clinch victory and gesture to the crowd that he could no longer hear them.

“It feels unbelievable,” he said. “I am really happy for myself, what a great match, a lot of emotions, I thought I had him in the third and then found myself in the fifth!

Nadal is two more victories away from earning a record 21st Grand Slam men’s title, which would move him clear of long-time rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Nadal’s relief at coming through the toughest of tests was evident after Shapovalov pushed a backhand volley wide on the Spaniard’s first match point.

Grinning widely, Nadal celebrated by standing in front of his box and staring at his team while shaking both fists. In contrast, Shapovalov demolished his racquet on the court.

Afterwards, Nadal said he “didn’t know” how he managed to win on a Melbourne afternoon where temperatures topped 30C.

“I was completely destroyed,” he said. “It was a very tough day, very warm, I didn’t practice for it.

“At the beginning of the match I was playing great, I know how difficult it is to play against a player like Denis.

“I had my chances at the beginning of the third, I didn’t get it and then started to feel a bit more tired and he pushed me.”

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