Facing Rafael Nadal for the fourth time on clay, Alexander Zverev defeated the king of clay in the Madrid Open quarter-final. In the clash of former champions, Zverev overpowered Nadal 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 44 minutes, beating the Spaniard for the third time in a row and the first on the slowest surface.
Alexander describes the victory as one of the most significant ones of his career, praising Nadal and highlighting how tough is to beat him on clay. Rafa played well against Carlos Alcaraz and Alexei Popyrin, but couldn't do much today, playing passive tennis and struggling on both serve and return.
The crowd favorite stayed under ten winners, with Zverev taking charge and hitting 28 winners and 25 unforced errors that pushed him through. The German had a massive advantage in the shortest and mid-range rallies, closing the exchanges mainly before the ninth stroke and taking the rhythm away from Nadal to advance into the tenth Masters 1000 semi-final at 24.
Rafa made a great start and opened a 4-2 advantage, shutting down his engines after that and struggling to follo the rival's pace. Zverev created six break points and converted three, dropping serve only once in the early stages and never looking back behind the initial shot.
They kicked off the encounter with five comfortable holds before Nadal scored a break at love at 3-2 following Zverev's double fault.
Alexander Zverev described his victory over Rafael Nadal as one of his career-best.
Alexander stayed calm and broke back in the next game after forcing Rafa's error at the net, saving a break point in game eight to level the score at 4-4.
The German grabbed the second straight return game in game nine and closed the opener with an ace for 6-4 and a massive boost. Nadal got broken at 2-2 in set number two following Zverev's forehand down the line winner and faced two more break points that could have sent him 5-2 down.
The Spaniard saved them to bring the game home but couldn't do anything on the return, as Alexander held at 15 in game ten to seal the deal and remain on the title course. "It is definitely one of the biggest wins of my career so far, especially on clay against Rafa.
It is the toughest thing to do in our sport. Beating him in his house in Spain is incredible, but the tournament is not over yet. I know that I can do well against Dominic. Everyone remembers the US Open final that we played. I remember it certainly, and it is still going to be in the back of my mind when we play tomorrow. I'm looking forward to the match," Alexander Zverev said.