Seeking the first Madrid Open title since 2017, Rafael Nadal couldn't go all the way in front of the home fans last week, suffering the quarter-final loss to Alexander Zverev in straight sets. Rager to beat the king of clay on the slowest surface for the first time, the German played on a high level and controlled the pace to notch a 6-4, 6-4 triumph and advance into the semis.
For Nadal, this is the worst Masters 1000 streak on clay, failing to reach the semis in three consecutive tournaments for the first time since making a debut in Monte Carlo 2003. Alexander had a clear advantage on the court, firing almost 30 winners and taming his strokes nicely to overpower Rafa and move over the top with three breaks on his tally.
Nadal made a good start, opening a 4-2 advantage before dropping ten of the last 14 games, unable to move Zverev away from the comfort zone and staying under ten winners.
Rafael Nadal praised Alexander Zverev after their Madrid Open clash.
In the press conference, Nadal admitted that he wasn't surprised with the outcome, reminding everyone that Zverev is a player from the top.
Chasing the second Madrid crown in three years last week, Alexander scored back-to-back wins over top-10 opponents, beating Dominic Thiem in the semis and Matteo Berrettini in the title clash to secure the fourth Masters 1000 crown at 24.
From 4-2 down in the first set, the German claimed all four remaining games for 6-4, gathering a boost and sealing Nadal's fate with another return game at 2-2 in set number two that carried him into the last four. "It is always a balance between your poor tennis and the opponent's high level.
But, yes, of course, it was more the second than the first. I initially had the match under control, playing well in the opening six games and probably better than Alexander. Serving for 5-2, I produced a disaster and played another terrible service game from 30-0 at 4-4.
It wasn't easy for me to remain confident after that, not in these conditions and against the rival from the top. I did my best but couldn't control my serve. Well done to Alexander; he played his game, and his level didn't surprise me. He is ranked at the top, and you should expect this kind of tennis from him," Rafael Nadal said.