Denis Shapovalov has attacked Wimbledon and the ATP for the decisions that have led to fears of players skipping the grass-court grand slam.

Canadian left-hander Shapovalov enjoyed a run to the semi-finals at the All England Club last year, eventually losing to Novak Djokovic, but he will lose all his points and be unable to defend them at the 2022 tournament.

The season's third major will not have any ranking points after the ATP and WTA, which run the men's and women's tours, respectively, effectively decided to punish the grand slam's organisers for banning Russian and Belarusian players.

Naomi Osaka has said she is unsure about playing in London on that basis, as she wants to play events where there are points available following a slide on the WTA list, and there are concerns others may also give it a miss. A number of players have voiced concern that prize money could be slashed too.

Shapovalov, who addressed the matter after a shock first-round loss to Denmark's Holger Rune at the French Open on Tuesday, said he did not agree with the banning of players or the subsequent points decision.

"I completely understand the politics and the situation they're in. But if you have a tennis tournament that's supposed to have the best athletes in the world, it shouldn't matter where you're from," Shapovalov said.

"I also don't agree with the ATP to take out all the points. The most guys it's affecting are the guys in the top rankings."

Referring to last year's semi-finalists in the men's singles, Shapovalov, who beat Andy Murray on the way to the last four, said: "Obviously Novak [Djokovic], me, Hubi [Hubert Hurkacz], [Matteo] Berrettini, who is not playing here, we're going to drop a lot.

"I think they could have gone with it a different way, maybe keep 50 per cent like they have in the past or some kind of fairness."

Karolina Pliskova lost to Ash Barty in the women's final at Wimbledon last year, and the Czech described the WTA's move to strip points from Wimbledon as a "super tough and unfair and bad decision".

She will play Wimbledon, which starts on June 27, because she feels it is a tournament she can win, and at the age of 30 she is determined to take every opportunity going to land a maiden grand slam. She could become champion this year but, because last year's Wimbledon ranking points will fall off, plunge down the rankings at the same time.

Intriguingly, Pliskova said leading WTA stars could not agree what action tour chiefs should take about points.

"We had a group of WhatsApp chat [between] top 10 players and these 10 girls could not agree on the same thing," Pliskova said. "Some girls were for no points, some were for 50 per cent, to keep just 50 per cent from last year, some were for like all the points. So it is what it is."

Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, who won the French Open in 2017 and reached the Wimbledon semi-finals a year later, suspects there could yet be a twist in the saga to come.

Ostapenko said: "There are of course a lot of rumours and talks, but I think maybe they are going to change their mind. I'm not sure about points. But I think a lot of things may happen within the next week or two weeks.

"That's my personal opinion. Maybe I'm wrong. If there are no points, I'm not really sure what I'm going to do.

"I feel like it's a little bit unfair to play the tournament when there are no points and you can win the tournament and then you don't move one spot up in the ranking."

Reigning champion Casper Ruud made a winning start to his Geneva Open title defence after defeating Benoit Paire in straight sets on Wednesday.

The world number eight triumphed in Switzerland 12 months ago with victory over Denis Shapovalov in the final, claiming the first of five ATP titles he won during an impressive campaign.

Fresh from reaching the semi-finals in Rome, the Norwegian – also a winner in Buenos Aires and a Miami runner-up this season – made a dominant start.

Although he was broken in game three of the opening set, Ruud responded immediately and a further four breaks wrapped up a commanding 6-3 6-1 victory in just 55 minutes.

Meanwhile, Reilly Opelka registered his first win on European clay this season as he saw off Christopher O'Connell.

Despite triumphing in Dallas and Houston earlier this year, Opelka has suffered first-round exits in Munich, Madrid and Rome since the latter. 

Nevertheless, the fourth seed was in fine form in Geneva, hitting 13 aces on the way to defeating the Australian qualifier.

However, there was no joy for 2021 runner-up Shapovalov as the third seed crashed out 6-4 6-7(2) 6-3 to Ilya Ivashka.

Fifth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili fell 6-4 6-3 at the hands of 2015 finalist Joao Sousa, who progresses beyond round two for the first time since reaching the Championship match seven years ago.

There were more surprise defeats in Lyon, where second seed Pablo Carreno Busta was beaten 7-5 6-3 by Federico Coria.

After taking a close opening set, the world number 59 rallied from 3-1 down in the second to reach his fourth quarter-final of the season on clay.

Karen Khachanov also bowed out to Marrakech runner-up Alex Molcan 6-2 7-6(4), while Munich champion Holger Rune built on his momentum with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Adrian Mannarino.

Rafael Nadal conceded he is "living with an injury" after suffering his earliest Internazionali d'Italia exit since 2008 against Denis Shapovalov, but still hopes to compete at the French Open later this month.

Record 21-time grand slam winner Nadal fell to a 1-6 7-5 6-2 defeat to Shapovalov in the third round in Rome on Thursday after struggling with a foot injury throughout the match.

The 35-year-old could be seen regularly limping and battling through the pain, but his resistance ultimately wilted as the Canadian surged to victory after winning 12 straight points from 2-2 in the deciding set.

Nadal, speaking after the defeat, detailed the struggles he is having on a day-to-day basis as injury problems continue to hamper him.

"I am not injured. I am living with an injury. My day-by-day is difficult," he told reporters.

"I am trying hard but of course, it's difficult to accept the situation at times. A lot of days I can't practice the proper way.

"It started halfway through the second set and it was unplayable for me. [But] I don't want to take away credit from Denis that he deserves."

Asked about his chances of being fit for the French Open, which starts on Sunday, May 22 at Roland Garros, the Spaniard responded: "[It's] still the goal, in one week and a couple of days. I'll still keep dreaming.

"Maybe in two days, things are better, the things that I have on my foot. It's true that during Roland Garros I'm going to have my doctor with me – that sometimes helps."

Defeat to Shapovalov also meant Nadal will drop to number five in the world rankings, leaving him facing a potential meeting with the top seed in the quarter-finals of the French Open, which he has won a record 13 times.

 

Rafael Nadal suffered his earliest Internazionali d'Italia exit since 2008 at the hands of Denis Shapovalov on Thursday, but Novak Djokovic advanced to the quarter-finals. 

'King of Clay' Nadal fell to a 1-6 7-5 6-2 defeat to Shapovalov in the third round in Rome, with the Canadian surging to victory after winning 12 straight points from 2-2 in the deciding set. 

The legendary Spaniard stormed through the first set thanks to a series of brilliant returns, but his opponent dominated at the net in the second to take the match the distance. 

Shapovalov then flipped the narrative on its head by winning 14 of a possible 22 return points to set up a quarter-final meeting with Casper Ruud, who beat Jenson Brooksby 6-3 6-4. 

Djokovic is one win away from retaining his status as world number one after taking just 75 minutes to see off three-time grand slam winner Stan Wawrinka 6-2 6-2. 

After a lengthy spell out injured, Wawrinka ended a 15-month wait for an ATP Tour victory at Foro Italico before the Serbian brought his run to an end. 

"It is great to see Stan back and winning. He won two tough matches. You can see he is still not physically where he wants to be. But, nevertheless, he is Stan Wawrinka and he can hurt you if you give him time," Djokovic said. 

"I managed to do well from the beginning. I really moved him around the court and held my serve comfortably except for that loss of my serve in the second set." 

Felix Auger-Aliassime stands between Djokovic and the number one spot after overcoming lucky loser Marcos Giron 6-3 6-2. 

In the other half of the draw, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Jannik Sinner will play out an entertaining quarter-final after they beat Karen Khachano and Filip Krajinovic respectively. 

Alexander Zverev, the defeated finalist in Madrid last week, beat Alex De Minaur 6-3 7-6 (7-5) and will battle Cristian Garin for a place in the final four.

Rafael Nadal accepts he will have to perform better than he did against John Isner if he is to overcome "dangerous" opponent Denis Shapovalov at the Internazionali d'Italia.

The world number four's bid for an 11th title in Rome got off to a strong start on Wednesday as he saw off big-serving Isner 6-3 6-1 in a time of 76 minutes.

Isner twice missed the chance to break Nadal in the seventh game of the opening set and the Spaniard took control from that point on in the second-round match.

Nadal, who has won this tournament in three of the past four years, identified that hold of serve as a key point in the contest.

"The beginning of the match was not good for me," he said in his on-court interview. "He had some chances on the return and had two break points. 

"He had two not difficult balls so I was in his hands at that moment. I was lucky that he missed those shots and then I was able to break. 

"Then the match changed, of course. With the first set on the board, and having the break in the first game of the second set, everything changed."

Nadal will now face Shapovalov in a repeat of last year's last-16 encounter, which the record 21-time grand slam winner edged in three sets.

He recovered from a set down and saved two match points before beating the Canadian 3-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) en route to lifting the title in the Italian capital.

And Nadal, who was beaten by Carlos Alcaraz on clay in last week's Madrid Open quarter-final, is not expecting an easy task this time around.

"Last year was a joke, the match that I saved here against him," said Nadal of his next opponent. "I was super lucky. I know how dangerous he is, I need to play well. 

"I need to play better than today, but after a while without being on court it is another victory and I have the chance again to play against one of the best players in the world.

"I need to build things again after a tough stoppage and that's what I am trying now. I just need to stay with the right attitude, and let's see if I am able to make that happen."

Alexander Zverev also booked his place in the last 16 on Wednesday thanks to a 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 victory over Sebastian Baez.

Last week's Madrid Open runner-up was given a tough time of things by in-form Baez, but ultimately came through unscathed to stay on course for more silverware.

Novak Djokovic had few issues seeing off Aslan Karatsev to reach the last 16 of the Internazionali d'Italia on Tuesday as he bids to remain world number one.

Djokovic needs to reach the semi-finals in Rome to ensure Daniil Medvedev cannot usurp him atop the ATP rankings next week, and he made a solid start with a 6-3 6-2 victory over another Russian in the second round.

Karatsev did initially pose a threat, with both players breaking at the first opportunity, but Djokovic's superiority gave him the edge in the first set and then saw him cruise in the second.

Djokovic – who will face either Stan Wawrinka or Laslo Djere next – acknowledged he undoubtedly benefited from Karatsev's wastefulness, however.

"You never know with him," Djokovic said. "If he's feeling the ball, he can be very dangerous because he stays so close to the line, puts pressure on his opponents.

"He was missing a lot of balls today, though. He gave me a couple of breaks there in the first and second sets, but I'll take this win for sure.

"It's a straight-sets win against a quality opponent, and I'm looking forward to the next challenge."

Fifth seed Casper Ruud also progressed to the last 16 but was tested by Botic van de Zandschulp, with the Norwegian eventually coming through 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 6-4.

But Andrey Rublev, who had won six of his previous seven matches, was a surprise second-round casualty as he fell to Filip Krajinovic in straight sets, with the Serbian claiming a 6-2 6-4 win.

Canadians Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov were the other seeds to reach the last 16 on Tuesday. The former was pushed hard by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 success, while the latter could face Rafael Nadal next up.

Meanwhile, across seven first-round matches, Cameron Norrie, Jannik Sinner and Diego Schwartzman were the biggest names to advance, though 11th seed Hubert Hurkacz was dumped out by the unseeded David Goffin.

Stan Wawrinka said he was "feeling great" after securing his first win in 15 months by downing 14th seed Reilly Opelka at the Internazionali d'Italia.

The three-time grand slam winner made his tour return last month after requiring two surgeries on a left foot injury, but rallied after losing his first set against Opelka to secure a memorable 3-6 7-5 6-2 first-round victory.

Speaking after booking a second-round meeting with Laslo Djere, who beat Borna Coric 6-2 6-7 (3-7) 6-2, Wawrinka said his desire to play at the top level never left him, despite his injury woes.

"I think in general I was feeling good on the court, physically I was feeling great," he said. "For sure, when you don't win a match in more than a year, you start to think about it more than you should and not focus on the right things. 

"In general, I think it was a great match, a great battle. I stayed positive. I started to feel much better with my tennis by the end of the second set, and in the third set. I'm really happy with this victory.

"After two surgeries, at my age I could easily have stopped playing because my career is way better than what I expected when I was young.

"But I still have this fire in me. I still believe that I can play great tennis. I still believe that I make some big results, maybe not now, but in a few months."

Fellow former grand slam champion Dominic Thiem, who also returned from a long injury-enforced absence last month, fared less well, going down in straight sets to Fabio Fognini.

Having lost to Andy Murray at the Madrid Open last time out, 2020 US Open winner Thiem is still chasing his first victory of the year after losing 6-4 7-6 (7-5) to the 34-year-old Italian.

Elsewhere, 13th seed Denis Shapovalov edged an epic three-hour contest against Italy's Lorenzo Sonego 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 6-3, responding after being handed a game penalty for shouting expletives at a partisan crowd in Rome during the second set.

The frustrated Canadian was heard to tell spectators: "Shut the f*** up" when being booed after complaining about a second serve being called out by the umpire, but eventually regained his composure to claim a three-set win.

Shapovalov will face Georgia's world number 25 Nikoloz Basilashvili in the second round after he overcame Daniel Evans 7-6 (7-2) 6-2, while the only other seed to play on Monday, Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta, cruised to a 6-3 6-2 victory over Federico Delbonis.

Novak Djokovic set up a last-16 clash with Andy Murray at the Madrid Open, impressing in a straight-sets victory over Gael Monfils while Murray overcame Denis Shapovalov.

The 20-time grand slam champion eased to a 6-3 6-2 win in the Spanish capital, assuring him of a record-extending 369th week at the top of the ATP world rankings and teeing up a mouth-watering contest with one of his greatest rivals.

The Serb hailed his victory as representing his best performance of 2022, saying he was pleased with his progress after falling to a final defeat against Andrey Rublev on home soil in last month's Belgrade Open.

"[It was] probably the best match of the year so far for me," Djokovic told Tennis TV after the win. "I haven't played many matches and am still finding my groove.

"But [it's] a very good win against a very tricky opponent. I had a week, 10 days to get ready for this match, and for this tournament I have done everything I possibly can to build my fitness and also improve on all aspects of the game, on the court. 

"I'm really glad that it paid off, because I felt good on the court. It's the right process, and it's the right direction."

Djokovic will face Murray for the 37th time, and the first time since 2017's Qatar Open, after the three-time grand slam winner rolled back the years to overcome Shapovalov 6-1 3-6 6-2 in an absorbing two-hour contest later on Tuesday.

The duo are one of only two male pairs to have met in each of the four grand slam finals (along with Djokovic and Rafael Nadal), while Djokovic holds a 25-11 lead across their previous meetings and has won both of their two encounters at the Madrid Open, one of which was their first-ever meeting in 2006.

Elsewhere in the draw, it was a day of few shocks in Spain as seeds Rublev and Carlos Alcaraz ensured their own progress to the last 16.

Rublev recovered from a poor first-set showing to down Great Britain's Jack Draper 2-6 6-4 7-5, while home favourite Alcaraz remained on course for a potential meeting with compatriot Nadal after earning a 6-3 7-5 victory over Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Finally, 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3 3-6 6-4 in a competitive first-round affair to set up Wednesday's enticing last-32 clash with world number three Alexander Zverev.

Andy Murray swept aside Dominic Thiem in impressive fashion to secure his first clay-court win in five years as the Scot advanced to the second round at the Madrid Open on Monday.

The three-time grand slam champion was largely in control against his Austrian opponent, hitting nine aces and saving all three break points against his serve, while Thiem could only save one of the three he faced as Murray won 6-3 6-4.

He will now play 14th seed Denis Shapovalov after the Canadian beat Ugo Humbert 7-6 (7-1) 6-3.

The winner of that contest will have a last-16 meeting against the victor of Novak Djokovic and Gael Monfils after the latter eased into the round of 32 to set up a clash with the Serbian.

Monfils defeated wildcard Carlos Gimeno Valero 6-3 6-0 in less than an hour, while Alejandro Davidovich Fokina also advanced with a 7-5 6-3 win against Lloyd Harris.

Dusan Lajovic set up a second-round match against fifth seed Casper Ruud, who defeated Borna Coric 6-3 4-6 6-4, and ninth seed Cameron Norrie will go up against John Isner, the Briton having overcome Soonwoo Kwon 7-5 7-5.

An interesting tie awaits the much-talked about Carlos Alcaraz after Nikoloz Basilashvili beat Fabio Fognini 7-5 6-4, with the Georgian to face the number seven seeded teenager next.

Jannik Sinner, the 10th seed, scraped through a hard-fought encounter against American Tommy Paul 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-3, and will play Alex de Minaur next after the Australian beat Pedro Martinez 7-6 (7-2) 1-6 6-3.

Diego Schwartzman will take on Grigor Dimitrov in the second round. The Argentine 13th seed beat Benoit Paire 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 6-1, while Dimitrov overcame Maxime Cressy 6-2 7-6 (7-4).

Daniil Medvedev comfortably saw off Andy Murray in their third-round match at the Miami Masters, winning 6-4 6-2 on Saturday.

Medvedev must reach the semi-finals in order to retake the top spot in the ATP rankings from Novak Djokovic in April, and he got off to a positive start in Miami, not facing a single break point in his 90-minute win.

"On the days when you serve good, your opponent doesn't have this freedom to return, it helps you," Medvedev said post-match.

"[In the] second set, the scoreline was easier, it was much tougher in the beginning, but when your opponent knows you're probably going to get some aces and it's not going to be easy for him to return, he gets pressure on his serve and many times that is what happens in close matches."

Medvedev will face Pedro Martinez, who defeated Cristian Garin 7-6 (6-2) 6-2.

Reigning Miami champion Hubert Hurkacz got his title defence off to a good start with a 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 victory over Arthur Rinderknech.

Following defeats for Murray and John Isner, the Polish world number 10 is the only former champion left in the draw.

A number of men's seeds were beaten in their second-round matches on Saturday, however, including Canadian duo Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov.

Miomir Kecmanovic continued his good run of recent form, defeating Auger-Aliassime in straight sets 6-4 6-2, while South African Lloyd Harris beat Shapovalov 6-4 6-3.

For his third consecutive ATP 1000 match, meanwhile, Stefanos Tsitsipas was pushed to three sets by an unseeded American.

After some entertaining hitting, with both looking to finish points early, the Greek third seed claimed four straight breaks of serve to eventually defeat Jack Wolf 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-1.

Jannik Sinner saved three match points to avoid a shock defeat to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the first round of the Dubai Tennis Championships.

After losing the first set, the world number 10 staved off defeat in a nerve-wracking second-set tie-break.

The fourth seed clung on as Davidovich Fokina saw a trio of opportunities to clinch a shock win go begging, the Spaniard made to pay as his Italian counterpart fought back to prevail 4-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-3.

Sinner, who will next face former world number one Andy Murray, said: "It was a very tough match. I know him, but we've never played against each other.

"It was the first time for both of us and it was a tricky one, saving three match points. On the first one I got lucky because it was out, but not so far [out]."

Second favourite Andrey Rublev won both the singles and doubles titles in Marseille last week and continued his fine form with a 6-4 7-5 win over Daniel Evans that saw the Russian send down 28 winners.

Sixth seed Denis Shapovalov had to recover from a set down to see off Marton Fucsovics, though fifth seed Hubert Hurkacz enjoyed a more routine straight-sets triumph over Alexander Bublik.

Eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut made relatively light work of Arthur Rinderknech but defending champion and seventh seed Aslan Karatsev was stunned 7-5 6-3 by Mackenzie McDonald.

Karen Khachanov needed a little shy of three hours to beat Alex de Minaur, his dubious reward a second-round clash with Novak Djokovic as the world number one continues his return to the Tour following his controversial Australian Open absence.

Denis Shapovalov crashed out of the Qatar Open after losing in straight sets to France's Arthur Rinderknech in their quarter-final on Thursday.

The top-seeded Canadian lost in just an hour and 20 minutes as Rinderknech sealed a 6-4 6-4 victory to seal his place in the semi-finals in Doha.

Shapovalov struggled throughout, making nine double faults and having to face 10 break points, of which he managed to save eight.

Rinderknech will now face Nikoloz Basilashvili after the Georgian fought back to beat Marton Fucsovics 1-6 6-3 7-5.

The other semi-final will see Karen Khachanov take on Roberto Bautista Agut, with the Russian also coming from a set down in beating Marin Cilic 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Bautista Agut followed up Wednesday's 6-0 6-1 victory against Andy Murray by again winning comfortably against fellow Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, scoring a 6-1 6-1 success.

The number two seed won 74 per cent of points when landing his first serve as he sealed victory in an hour and 17 minutes.

At the Open 13 in Marseille, Rotterdam champion Felix Auger-Aliassime increased his winning streak to six matches after beating French veteran Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 to head through to the quarter-finals.

"It was a special moment," Auger-Aliassime said after his win. "When the match was coming to the end, I knew it was going to be a special moment, a full-circle moment. He was my top idol growing up and I saw myself in him at times."

Auger-Aliassime will play world number 49 Ilya Ivashka next, while top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas also went through after a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) win against Hugo Gaston. The Greek star will play Russian Roman Safiullin in the last eight.

Ninth seed Benjamin Bonzi beat fellow Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4 6-3 and will go up against Aslan Karatsev in the next round, while Lucas Pouille overcame Radu Albot 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-2) and will tackle Andrey Rublev next.

Andy Murray suffered one of the heaviest losses of his career in the second round of the Qatar Open, while Andrey Rublev escaped an early exit at the Open 13. 

Former world number one Murray went down 6-0 6-1 to last year's runner-up Roberto Bautista Agut in Doha on Wednesday. 

It was just the fourth occasion in which the three-time major champion has lost a match while winning only one game or fewer in his career – the last time being a defeat by the same scoreline to Roger Federer at the ATP Finals in 2014. 

Murray's fellow Briton Dan Evans also endured a second-round loss, going down 4-6 7-5 6-4 to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina – Bautista Agut's next opponent. 

Denis Shapovalov bounced back from his first-round loss to Jiri Lehecka in Rotterdam last week by dropping just eight points on serve as he claimed a 6-4 6-0 victory over Alex Molcan inside 52 minutes. 

Next up for the Canadian will be Arthur Rinderknech after the Frenchman came from a set down to defeat seventh seed Alexander Bublik 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 6-4. 

Nikoloz Basilashvili faced little trouble in overcoming Elias Ymer 6-4 7-5 and his reward is a quarter-final against Marton Fucsovics, who got the better of Kwon Soon-woo. 

Karen Khachanov and Marin Cilic will meet in the last eight after they respectively eliminated Emil Ruusuvuori and Botic van de Zandschulp. 

In Marseille, second seed Rublev was made to work hard for a place in the Open 13 quarter-finals by home hope Richard Gasquet. 

Gasquet went a break up in the third set and, after surrendering his advantage, stopped Rublev serving out the match to force a tie-break. 

However, the world number seven did not waste his next opportunity as he sealed a 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) success. 

Aslan Karatsev also booked his place in the last eight, while there were wins for Frenchmen Benjamin Bonzi and Lucas Pouille too. 

Defending Rotterdam Open champion Andrey Rublev and world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas won through their opening tests, but Denis Shapovalov will not be in round two.

Rublev beat Henri Laaksonen 6-4 6-4 on Tuesday, while top seed Tsitsipas went the distance before edging out Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-5 6-7 (1-7) 6-4 after two hours and 39 minutes on the court.

Reflecting on his win, Tsitsipas was full of praise for his opponent, saying: "It was a great battle; he gave me some of the best tennis I have seen him play.

"He was very fired up today and making the best out of every single shot. He was hitting huge winners from behind the baseline. He's one of the best young players who I have played."

However, world number 12 Shapovalov had no such luck, as he slumped to a surprise defeat to Czech qualifier Jiri Lehecka.

The world number 137 saw off the Canadian 6-4 6-4, showing impressive resolve to hold serve at 4-2 in the first set after initially going 0-40 down.

Shapovalov converted just one of 11 break points offered up by Lehecka as he failed to build on an impressive run to the Australian Open quarter-finals last month.

Aslan Karatsev, who won a title in Sydney in January, was another seed to drop out, after his 2-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-0) defeat to home favourite Tallon Griekspoor.

Griekspoor has enjoyed some big wins in this tournament in the past, having defeated Stan Wawrinka and Karen Khachanov in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Khachanov, too, was in action on Tuesday; unlike his Russian compatriot Karatsev, Khachanov took his place in round two with a 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 7-6 (7-6) defeat of Alexei Popyrin.

Lorenzo Musetti and Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp also progressed.

Rafael Nadal almost pulled out of the Australian Open just days before heading to Melbourne, according to his uncle.

The 35-year-old battled past Denis Shapovalov on Tuesday to reach the semi-finals of the tournament for just the third time since 2016.

Nadal, who is chasing a record 21st grand slam title to break the three-way tie with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, has only won the first major of the year once in his career – back in 2009 – and lost at the quarter-final stage in 2020 and 2021.

Even with nine-time champion Djokovic not competing after being deported by border authorities over a visa dispute, few considered Nadal to be the favourite for the title this year given he went from August to December in 2021 without playing a match, having undergone surgery on a foot injury.

Nadal has looked in strong form, though, even recovering from apparent stomach trouble and difficulty in the heat to beat Shapovalov 6-3 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3 after more than four hours of action on Rod Laver Arena.

Toni Nadal, his coach for most of his professional career, said his nephew nearly decided against competing at all in Australia as he did not feel ready.

Asked if he were surprised by Nadal's form, he told Cadena SER: "Yes, I'm surprised, because I remember when three days before the start, Rafa called my youngest son to hit a few balls after being quarantined due to coronavirus.

"At nine o'clock, we went to train and during training, he said, 'I don't know if I'm going to go or not because at the moment I'm not in condition for an Australian Open'. They only had three days to get a flight.

"The following day, he perked up and said 'Okay, come on, I'm going'. I think it was more the excitement of competing and returning to competition than believing in himself."

Speaking about the quarter-final, Toni Nadal said his brother in Australia told the family about the problems with the heat on court.

"He looked good. In the first two sets, he played at quite a good level against a tough opponent," he said.

"Everything changed as a result of heatstroke. We were watching the game with the family and at one point, after the second set, I said, 'well, I think this is done', and my brother in Australia said no, he's literally exhausted, and he'd told them he had had heatstroke."

Shapovalov lost his temper with umpire Carlos Bernardes during the match for refusing to give Nadal a time violation during a change of ends, proclaiming "You guys are all corrupt" before claiming post-match that players such as Nadal receive preferential treatment on court.

 

"I think he is totally wrong," said Toni. "When you have to change, you need time and the umpire normally looks at the players and sees the time and starts the clock later. He pressed too soon, realised it and that's why he gave Rafa more time.

"Young people sometimes act without thinking. How could an umpire be corrupt?"

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