Nadal has high praise for Shapovalov after beating teenager

Alexander Zverev

Alexander Zverev

Nadal's astounding 50-set winning streak on clay came to an end last week when he lost to Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open, but the two men suffered contrasting fortunes in Rome on Wednesday (May 16).

The 22-year-old Kontaveit won through 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) against the 37-year-old American who was seeded eighth in a tournament she won almost two decades ago to 1999.

Interestingly, while Rafa soared high, his last week's conqueror, Thiem slumped to a 4-6, 6-1, 3-6 defeat to Italian veteran Fabio Fognini.

"It was a solid match for me", Nadal said. And that's what I did today. I can have some more practice days. I got the break in the 3-all.

The Spaniard will next take on Fognini, a player he knows well having played 14 times and holds a 10-3 record against including five wins in their most recent matches. At the beginning, I really think that he was serving big.

Defending champion Elina Svitolina eased into the third round while three-time victor Maria Sharapova needed a marathon three sets to get past Australian Ashleigh Barty.

Fourth-seeded Marin Cilic defeated Benoit Paire 6-3, 6-4.

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Also, ninth-seeded David Goffin was leading 6-2, 4-5 when Juan Martin del Potro retired because of a groin injury; and 10th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta beat Aljaz Bedene 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-2.

"I played really a good tactic, making him run a lot from both side", said Goffin.

Number one seed Simona Halep of Romania made it through to the quarter-finals before a ball was struck as her opponent, Madison Keys of the United States, had to retire hurt before she took to the court.

Halep needed to reach at least the last eight and go further than world number two Caroline Wozniacki to retain the top-ranking going into the French Open.

Like Nadal, 11th-seeded Serbian Novak Djokovic was also in top form Wednesday, besting Georgian qualifier Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-2 in 77 minutes.

The results: Second round: Women: Simona Halep bt Naomi Osaka 6-1, 6-0; Caroline Garcia bt Timea Babos 6-3, 6-4; Sloane Stephens bt Kaia Kanepi 6-0, 5-7, 6-4; Darya Kasatkina bt Danielle Collins 6-2, 6-3; Madison Keys bt Donna Vekic 7-6 (2), 7-6 (0); Sloane Stephens bt Kaia Kanepi 6-0, 5-7, 6-4; Johanna Konta bt Hsieh Su-Wei 6-0, 6-4; Maria Sakkari bt Karolina Pliskova 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Williams had earlier opened her campaign by brushing aside Russia's Elena Vesnina 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in their last-32 clash. It is a testament to his quality that he has wins over Nadal and Murray, as well as Kei Nishikori, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych when they were top ten players.

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