Madrid Open: Alexander Zverev claims third straight victory over Rafael Nadal

The German overcomes a slow start to beat the Spaniard in straight sets to setup a semifinal clash against Dominic Thiem.

Alexander Zverev in a file photo; Credit: ATP Tour Twitter

Alexander Zverev secured his third successive victory against Rafael Nadal on Friday to reach his second Mutua Madrid Open semifinal. The German overcame a slow start to win the match 6-4, 6-4. Rallying from 2-4 down in the first set, Zverev bagged his first clay-court win against the five-time Madrid champion. Zverev also won the pair’s two most recent indoor hard-court meetings – the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals and last year’s Rolex Paris Masters.

“[It is] definitely one of the biggest wins of my career so far, especially on clay against Rafa. It is the toughest thing to do in our sport,” Zverev said in his post-match interview. “Beating him in his house, in Spain, is incredible but the tournament is not over yet.”

Zverev, who is yet to lose a set this week, is inching ever closer to a second Madrid title. The 24-year-old last won the tournament in 2018 when he eased past Dominic Thiem in the final. Back then he was at his lethal best in the tournament, winning matches with little difficulty. Three years later, the German is showing similar traits.

Fightback

Earlier, Nadal started the brighter of the two and gained the first break of the match at 3-2. Zverev responded back in style. He starting forcing things more as his aggressive approach helped him peg Nadal back. The German claimed four straight games and the opening set along with it.

With momentum on his side, Zverev continued to put pressure on Nadal’s serve at the beginning of the second set. Nadal escaped at 1-1, but the 24-year-old continued to exert pressure which paid off as he converted his next chance at 2-2. The World No. 6 then saw out the rest of the set to secure the victory.

“I had the match under control at the beginning, playing well for six games, probably playing better than him,” Nadal said. “In the 4-2 [game], serving for 5-2, I [had] a disaster. Another bad game with my game [from] 30/0.”

“Of course, playing against one of the best players of the world, under these circumstances, with this speed of the court, [it] is very difficult to still [feel] confident. I tried, [but it] is true that the serve was difficult to control today. Well done [to] him.”

In a repeat of the 2018 final, Zverev will next play third seed Dominic Thiem. Earlier, Thiem had recovered from a set down to beat John Isner 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.




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