Alexander Zverev went to the Manolo Santana Stadium against Rafael Nadal and survived to tell the tale. The German advanced to the semifinals of the Mutua Madrid Open this Friday with one of the biggest victories of his career, after beating the Mallorcan 6-4, 6-4 and running as a candidate to regain the crown at the Caja Mágica.
With direct tennis under the sun in the capital, the 2018 champion recalled the threat posed by his game in the Spanish capital. The German had described the clashes with Nadal on clay as the sport's greatest challenge.
And he appeared ready to get over it. Although Zverev delivered his serve with a double fault and was soon 2-4 on the scoreboard, the Spaniard's feelings were far from the best. Alexander's punch crossed the court decisively, his two-handed backhand was a whip and it didn't take him long to link four games to tie the first set.
With numerous errors and no ability to penetrate the court, Nadal finished the first barren quarter of winners with his right hand, a fundamental blow to have a voice in the match. The second set delivered a Nadal always demanded, with the danger of Zverev constantly lurking.
Thus the Spaniard saved the first danger, a breaking ball with 1-1 to which he survived with a left to the limit. Since then, the way of the cross was constant. The ease of connecting the backhand to two handles launched Zverev.
The German broke Nadal's next serve (3-2) and hard blows from him like steel demanded a less precise Nadal than other afternoons. The public tried to cheer up the Spaniard, held back at the back of the track by the power of his opponent.
Against the wall, Nadal gave himself a last hopeful option after suffering again with his serve. In one of the most dramatic games of the afternoon, a pulse that could put him with an abyss of 5-2, the Spaniard raised two breaking balls to remain standing.
The Mallorcan celebrated each point seeking the connection with the stands, underlining the fighting spirit that has made him a legend. Nothing seemed to scare Zverev. If the Spaniard demanded that he serve to win the match, placing one last extra pressure on his shoulders, No.
6 World Cup accepted the challenge to complete the victory. The German, who lifted the 2018 cup without giving a turn to serve, again imposed the law on him in Madrid. Zverev will play the semifinals this Saturday against Austrian Dominic Thiem, reissuing the final played in 2018 at the Manolo Santana Stadium.
Rafael Nadal will now travel to Rome
“I feel like I’ve been taking steps forward, but when you go up a ladder, you can take a step back and I think that’s the way it has been today. Things started the same as in the previous games but, at the moment of truth in the moments in which I had to define the set, I did everything wrong making several mistakes,” said Rafael Nadal in the interview.
Rafa admitted that he was feeling sad as he missed an opportunity to win his sixth title in Madrid. He also talked about his next goal before the French Open 2021- to win the Italian Open 2021. “Sad about the defeat because it was an opportunity for me wasted and I will work to continue giving me another next week.
The trend of the land tour is ascending and now we will see what happens because the goal before Roland Garros is winning in Rome,” concluded the Spaniard.