Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev will face each other for the eighth time at the Madrid Open on Friday, battling for the semi-final spot. Nadal defeated the German in their opening five encounters before Alexander took charge in the previous two, beating the Spaniard on an indoor court in Paris in London to taste a smell of victory against the 20-time Major winner.
After early losses in Miami, Monte Carlo and Munich due to an elbow injury, Zverev played well in the opening two matches in Madrid against Kei Nishikori and Daniel Evans, beating them in straight sets to set the quarter-final clash against the four-time Caja Magica champion.
The German understands how tough it is to beat Rafa on clay, and he also knows that the Spaniard will be highly motivated to defeat him after two straight losses. Nadal seeks the first Madrid Open crown in four years, making a great start at Caja Magica against the young guns Carlos Alcaraz and Alexei Popyrin and hoping for more of the same versus Zverev.
Rafa and Alexander met thrice on clay in 2017 and 2018, with the German winning only one set.
Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev will battle at Caja Magica on Friday.
"I've beaten Rafa the last few times that we've played, but to do that on clay is a completely different task.
I've had some tough battles. When you beat him a few times in a row, it doesn't matter where it is, Rafa will be more motivated to beat you in the next matches. There's a higher bounce here in Madrid, and the serve goes through the court quicker.
The ball flies through the air much faster, so you can play more aggressively in comparison to the other clay courts. But still, I think Rafa is the favorite anywhere he goes; that's not going to change. He moves better on a clay court than he does on a hard court, and it's not easy to hit winners against him.
I have to go for my shots and remain aggressive. When you play against the 'Big 3,' you play in the later stages of a tournament and have to bring your best tennis to stand a chance. I've also gotten killed by all of them a few times in my life; I hope that wouldn't be the case against Rafa," Alexander Zverev said.