Rafael Nadal vs. Alexander Zverev - Their rivalry explained

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Rafael Nadal vs. Alexander Zverev - Their rivalry explained

Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev are battling in the first Roland Garros semi-final on Court Philippe-Chatrier. Nadal faces Zverev for the tenth time on his 36th birthday, hoping to beat the German for the seventh time and advance into the 14th Roland Garros final.

Rafa is 13-1 in the Roland Garros semi-finals, with the only loss coming a year ago against Novak Djokovic following that epic battle. Zverev took down Carlos Alcaraz to advance into the last four, and he will try to topple the king of clay and advance into the second Major final after the 2020 US Open.

Nadal had to work hard against a teenager Zverev in the Indian Wells 2016, prevailing 7-5 in the decider after fending off a match point. A year later, the Spaniard came from two sets to one down to beat the young gun in five sets at the Australian Open after a rock-solid performance in sets four and five.

Rafael Nadal leads 6-3 versus Alexander Zverev.

A few months later, Zverev took only two games against Nadal in Monte Carlo, as Rafa ousted him in 69 minutes. Rafa toppled Alexander in the 2018 Davis Cup match, using the home fans and the clay surface to remain perfect against the young star.

They met again in the Rome final in May that year, and Nadal bested Zverev in three sets to lift the trophy. Zverev's first victory over Nadal came at the 2019 ATP Finalsusing indoor conditions to impose his strokes and oust the Spaniard 6-2, 6-4.

A year later, Alexander toppled Rafa in another indoor match, this time in Paris. The German earned a 6-4, 7-5 victory in the semi-final, losing serve once and delivering three breaks of serve to seal the deal in straight sets.

Last year, Alexander defeated Rafa for the third consecutive time. He beat Nadal in the quarter-final at Caja Magica to remain on the title course and extend his run against the Spaniard. Nadal made a good start before Zverev took charge to earn a 6-4, 6-4 triumph after overpowering the home favorite.

They shared the court again a week later in Rome, and Rafa served revenge en route to his tenth Foro Italico crown. Nadal defended nine out of ten break chances and grabbed three breaks for his sixth victory over Zverev and the first in three years.