Ballgirl steals the show after Australian Open star's meltdown

Denish Shapovalov smashed his racquet after losing to. Rafael Nadal, leaving it for be fetched by a ballgirl.
Denish Shapovalov's smashed racquet was retrieved from the court by an Australian Open ballgirl in a moment fans on social media found amusing. Pictures: Channel 9/Getty Images

It'd be fair to say Denis Shapovalov was unhappy about his exit from the Australian Open.

The Canadian star has had a rough go of it at the first grand slam of the season, with his preparation disrupted after testing positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Melbourne.

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Fortunately it didn't hinder his progress at the Australian Open, with the world No.14 making it to the quarter finals and a showdown with Rafael Nadal.

One set in though, and it was clear Shapovalov was on the warpath.

The 22-year-old was left furious early in the second set over what he believed what the excessive amount of time Nadal was taking to get ready in between points.

This prompted an extraordinary argument with the chair umpire, which ended with Shapovalov labelling him 'corrupt' and eventually a conversation at the net between the two opponents.

Nadal won the first two sets, but the searing Melbourne heat and an evident stomach problem for the Spanish star gave Shapovalov a chance - one he seized with both hands, winning the next two sets.

Seemingly needing a miracle to turn the match around, Nadal took a medical timeout heading into the deciding set and came out re-invigorated, winning the set and the match.

Shapovalov's frustration got the better of him on match point, smashing his racquet on court and leaving it there as he left Rod Laver Arena.

The task of collecting the smashed racquet was left to one of the ballgirls, who simply shrugged to one of her colleagues as they left the court.

The amusing moment was picked up by tennis fans on social media.

A still-irate Shapovalov said after the match that it was beyond doubt in his mind that top players like Nadal are given preferential treatment by the umpires.

“Of course. 100 per cent he does. 100 per cent," Shapovalov said.

“They are legends of the game but when you step on the court it should be equal for everyone."

Rafael Nadal defeats Shapovalov in controversial circumstances

The Spanish legend's 6-3 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3 win ensured at least one of the Big Three has made the last four for the 70th time in the past 71 grand slam events.

The only time it did not happen since 2004 came at the 2020 US Open when Nadal and Roger Federer weren't playing and Novak Djokovic was defaulted in the fourth round for recklessly hitting a ball that struck a lineswoman.

"We can create histories ... but the real truth is that two months ago we didn't know if we will be able to be back on Tour at all," Nadal said, having missed most of 2021 with a crippling foot injury.

"So here I am. For me it's just a present of life that I'm here playing tennis again."

Rafael Nadal overcame a stiff challenge from Denis Shapovalov to win through to the Australian Open semi-finals. (Photo by AARON FRANCIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal overcame a stiff challenge from Denis Shapovalov to win through to the Australian Open semi-finals. (Photo by AARON FRANCIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Tuesday's victory, though, did not come easy as he dealt with stomach issues in the Melbourne heat and was in danger of bowing out at the quarter-final stage of the Open for the third consecutive year.

But once again the nigh-on indomitable 35-year-old was able to fend off a challenge from one of the leaders of the next generation to extend the Big Three's unparalleled dominance of tennis.

"I was completely destroyed after that very warm day. I didn't practice for it," Nadal said.

"I started to feel not very well in my stomach so I just asked if they can do something.

"Everything was alright on my body but I took some tablets to try and improve the stomach problem I had.

"I think I was lucky I was serving great in the fifth (set)."

Nadal, who contracted COVID-19 in the lead-up the tournament, will return to action on Friday.

With AAP

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