Shapovalov stuns ailing Nadal on clay to reach Italian Open quarter-finals

Canada’s Dennis Shapovalov advanced to the quarter-finals of the Italian Open tennis tournament Thursday with a 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 upset of clay-court legend Rafael Nadal.

Shapovalov was up 4-1 in the second set before Nadal rallied back to tie. But the 13th-seeded Canadian didn’t fold and forced a third set.

The Richmond Hill, Ont. player clinched the match with a break in the eighth game of the third set.

Nadal, the third seed in Rome, entered the tournament with a 466-44 career record on clay.

Shapovalov is now 2-4 lifetime against Nadal. He will face fifth-seeded Casper Ruud of Norway in Friday’s quarter-finals.

Earlier Thursday, Canadians Bianca Andreescu and Felix Auger-Aliassime also advanced to the quarter-finals.

Andreescu beat Serbia’s Petra Martiç 6-4, 6-4 in the women’s tournament. The product of Mississauga, Ont., Faces top-seeded Iga Swiatek in the next round.

WATCH | Andreescu beats Martiç to set showdown with Swiatek:

Andreescu powers her way into the Italian Open quarter-finals

Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., Beat Petra Martic of Croatia 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the quarter-finals of the Italian Open in Rome.

Swiatek is the defending champion in Rome and is attempting to win her fifth consecutive tournament.

The last player to win more consecutive matches was Serena Williams, who had a streak of 27 in a row over 2014 and 2015.

Swiatek’s run makes her a favorite to win a second French Open when the year’s second Grand Slam gets underway in 10 days.

Meanwhile, third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka beat Madrid Open finalist Jessica Pegula 6-1, 6-4.

Auger-Aliassime to meet Djokovic

In the men’s tournament, Montreal’s Auger-Aliassime dispatched American Marcos Giron 6-3, 6-2 in the men’s third round.

He’ll next face top-ranked player Novak Djokovic, who faced little resistance in a 6-2, 6-2 win over Stan Wawrinka, who was playing only his second tournament after undergoing two surgeries on his left foot.

At one hour 14 minutes, Djokovic finished his match off in less time than the first set between Swiatek and Victoria Azarenka.

WATCH | Auger-Aliassime eliminates Giron:

Auger-Aliassime cruises to Italian Open quarter-finals

Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal proved to be too much for Marcos Giron of the United States of America to handle in the Italian Open’s round of the 16 on Thursday. The world No. 9 won 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the quarter-finals on Friday in Rome.

The loudest cheers of the day were for Jannik Sinner, the 20-year-old Italian who beat Filip Krajinovic 6-2, 7-6 (6) to reach the quarter-finals for the first time at his home tournament.

Sinner will next face Stefanos Tsitsipas, who rallied past Karen Khachanov 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 for a tour-leading 29th win of the year.

2017 Rome champion Alexander Zverev, who is also coming off a run to the Madrid final, beat Alex De Minaur 6-3, 7-6 (5).

Zverev, who is still seeking his first title of the year, has his father and coach, Alexander, back on the circuit with him after a prolonged absence for reasons the family has kept personal.

When Zverev won the ATP Finals in November, his older brother and fellow pro, Mischa, was coaching him.

“I was missing a coach for six months. That’s what was missing,” Zverev said. “That’s why I took Sergi Bruguera on – because we didn’t quite know how long it would take my father to be back.

“I’m very happy for him to be back here. It gives me a certain calmness, a certain confidence as well, because he’s been there from the beginning of my career. I think nobody knows me better on the court than he does. “

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