Struggling with an injury for a couple of weeks, Alexander Zverev couldn't produce his best tennis at the Miami Open, Monte Carlo and Munich, suffering early losses and hoping for a better run in Madrid. The 2018 champion competed at a high level in Caja Magica, beating three top-10 rivals since the quarters and lifting the fourth Masters 1000 crown at 24.
At the winning ceremony, the German joked with the tournament director Feliciano Lopez, saying that Lopez didn't want to talk with him anymore once he defeated Rafael Nadal in the quarters. Zverev earned his third straight victory over Nadal and the first on clay, beating the Spaniard 6-4, 6-4 to advance into the semis and remain on the title course.
The crowd favorite played miles below his best, staying at under ten winners and not going for riskier shots that would have pushed Zverev away from the comfort zone. On the other hand, the German had a massive advantage in the shortest and mid-range rallies, firing almost 30 winners and taming his strokes nicely to reach the tenth Masters 1000 semis.
Zverev seized three breaks and dropped serve only once in the early stages, never looking back behind the initial shot in the remaining games after that setback. 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 defeated the crowd favorite Rafael Nadal in the Madrid Open QF.
With no sign of nerves, Alexander broke back in the next game after forcing Rafa's error at the net and saved a break point in game eight for 4-4.
The German grabbed the second straight return game 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 could have fallen 5-2 behind.
The Spaniard saved two break points in game seven, showing the fighting spirit but staying powerless on the return, as Alexander held at 15 in game ten to seal the deal and celebrate the third straight victory over Rafa. "Thank you, Feliciano.
For some reason, after I beat Rafa, you don't talk to me one word. I don't know why, but I think this would change after the final. I think both of you are doing an incredible job. Thank you guys for putting up this event, as much as the Madrid government for allowing us to come here and make us feel so special," Alexander Zverev said.