World number 1 Rafael Nadal entered the Sunday's singles rubber against Alexander Zverev with no room for errors, with Germany leading 2-1 against Spain after the first three matches. Playing against Zverev for the fourth time, Nadal claimed a superb 6-1 6-4 6-4 win in 2 hours and 16 minutes to level the overall score at 2-2 and switch the attention towards the last match of the tie that would determine the winner and the semi-finalist. This was the second match on clay between these two and Nadal proved who is a superior player on dirt, beating the young German 6-1 6-1 in Monte Carlo last year and controlling the scoreboard today as well for his 24th Davis Cup singles win in 25 matches.
In addition, Rafa is now 18-0 in Davis Cup singles matches on clay, dropping just five sets in total since he played for his country on his favorite surface for the first time in 2004. This was only the seventh match of the season for Nadal after being forced to retire against Marin Cilic in the quarter-final of the Australian Open, missing two and a half months of tennis, but he looked fine in these two matches against Philipp Kohlschreiber and Alexander Zverev, shaping his form for the upcoming challenges in Monte Carlo and Barcelona where he has to defend titles in order to keep the number 1 position.
They had a similar percentage of the first serve in but Nadal drew more from that, keeping his second serve safe and saving four out of six break points to limit the damage in his games. Sascha struggled to keep the pace behind his initial shot and he was outplayed from the baseline, losing serve six times from eight break points he gave to Rafa.
The Spaniard took charge right from the start, breaking in the second game and losing just three points in the opening three service games to build a 4-1 lead. Zverev double faulted to give his serve away once again in game six and Rafa closed the opening set in the following game with a volley winner after saving two break points.
Things looked better and better for Nadal when he broke at the start of the second set with a nice drop shot but Sascha pulled the break back a few minutes later after a deep return that Rafa failed to control. The Spaniard recovered instantly and he served well in the rest of the set to keep the pressure on the German, breaking him in game five with some powerful forehands and wrapping up a set with a hold at love in game 10.
With the momentum on his side, Rafa earned a break in game three with a backhand down the line winner and again in game five after a costly double fault from Sascha. The youngster managed to pull one break back in game six but that was all he could do, as Nadal completed the win with a service winner in game 10 to deliver an important point for his country and keep Spain in contention. Spain vs Germany (Plaza de Toros de Valencia, Outdoor Clay) 2-2