Facing each other for the second time in two weeks, Rafael Nadal toppled Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-4 in two hours for the Rome Open semi-final. Zverev finished the marathon clash against Kei Nishikori late last night, and he still gave his best today, creating ten break chances and converting only one while he was already behind in the opener.
On the other hand, Nadal seized three break chances to seal the deal in straight sets and avoid another epic clash like yesterday against Denis Shapovalov when he saved two match points. Zverev served at only 50% in the opener, getting broken twice and spraying 17 unforced errors to spoil his chances.
Nadal lost serve once and tamed his shots nicely, especially in the early stages, to secure the opener. Rafa claimed the opening game at 15 after a backhand crosscourt winner and grabbed a break a few minutes later following Alexander's double fault.
Nadal closed the third game at love after a service winner and earned another break thanks to Zverev's backhand mistake for a 4-0 lead after 16 minutes. After that, the German started to play better and pulled one break back when the Spaniard netted a backhand in game five.
Rafael Nadal defeated Alexander Zverev in straight sets in the Rome Open QF.
Zverev held at 30 in game six before Nadal closed the next one with a forehand winner at the net to remain in front. Alexander held in game with after deuce and a beautiful backhand crosscourt winner, reducing the deficit to 3-5 before earning a break chance in the next one.
Nadal felt in that ninth game, but he stayed focused to save that break point and closed the opener with a service winner. Zverev saved a break chance at the beginning of the second set and earned three return chances at 2-1 that could have sent him in front.
Nadal kept the composure and repelled them all, closing the game after an excellent point and a forehand winner that boosted him. Alexander got punished in the next game after wasting three game points, allowing Rafa to grab a break that would turn to be crucial.
Nadal had to dig deep in the sixth game, fending off two break chances and bringing the game home with a forehand crosscourt winner for a 4-2 lead. Both players served well in the next three games, and Rafa served for the victory at 5-4.
The German made one last push and created three break chances, squandering them all and finishing on the losing side after Nadal's serve & volley combo that propelled him into the semis.