Rafael Nadal knows it’s best not to underestimate Denis Shapovalov.
Back in 2017, Nadal fell to a 17-year-old Shapovalov in Montreal in the Rogers Cup Round of 16, a performance that helped vault the Canadian’s name into the national sphere.
Nadal recalled the match well, offering praise to the then-teenager.
“He was [a] very young man who played with amazing intensity,” Nadal said. “[He was] creating amazing shots, and as everybody knows, he is one of the players with the biggest potential on the board.”
Four-and-a-half years later, the pair are set to face off in the Australian Open quarterfinals later today.
Nadal made a bold prediction after that match — one that he’s sticking by today.
“I said after the match he’s gonna be a potential multi-Grand Slam winner,” Nadal said. “I still think that If he is able to keep improving, he will be a multi-Grand Slam winner.”
Nadal has beaten Shapovalov three times since their first match in 2017, but they’ve yet to face off in a Grand Slam event.
For a 35-year-old Nadal, the 2022 Australian Open represents an opportunity to win his 21st career Grand Slam, which would be a record. Shapovalov, on the other hand, is searching for his first.
“Shapovalov is a player with amazing potential,” Nadal added. “Everybody knows how good Denis is when he’s playing well.
The match is set to begin at 10 pm ET/ 7 pm PT tonight.
“I’m excited,” Nadal said. “I have [to] try my best to play at my highest level if I want to have chances to go through.”
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