Rafael Nadal kept his dreams of a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title alive with a thrilling five-set win over Denis Shapovalov in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.
The Spaniard raced into a two-set lead before Shapovalov rallied to set up a deciding fifth set, as Nadal struggled with an apparent stomach problem which required medication and an examination.
However, Nadal ultimately took the contest 6-3 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3 at the Rod Laver Arena as frustration boiled over for Shapovalov – who previously accused umpire Carlos Bernardes of being “corrupt” before the second set.
“I was completely destroyed. It was a very tough day, very warm, I didn’t practice for it,” Nadal said during his on-court interview after the victory.
“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.
“We can create history but the real thrill is that two months ago we didn’t know if we could be able to get back on tour. For me this is a present of life to be playing tennis again and I am just enjoying it.”
Nadal will now take on either Matteo Berrettini or Gael Monfils for a spot in the final.