Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev are battling for the place in the Madrid Open semi-final at Caja Magica. The German scored victories over Rafa in the previous two matches and will try to beat the Spaniard on clay for the first time, taking only one set in their encounters in 2018 and 2019.
Zverev scored solid wins over Kei Nishikori and Daniel Evans, and will seek a similar one against the 20-time Major winner, knowing he has to stay aggressive and dictate the rallies if he wants to stand a chance against the home favorite.
Speaking about the 'Big 3,' Alexander said that he knows how to fight against them, although he recalled tough losses against all three of them. In their first match on clay in Monte Carlo 2017, Nadal destroyed the young German 6-1, 6-1 in 69 minutes, dropping only seven points on serve and mounting the pressure on the other side of the net to break Zverev's resistance.
Alexander faced 12 break opportunities and got broken five times, never standing a chance against the king of clay. Speaking about today's match, Zverev wished not to be killed by Nadal.
Alexander Zverev seeks the first clay-court win over Rafael Nadal in Madrid.
"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.