Following tough losses against Fabio Fognini and Dominic Thiem in the semi-final in Monte Carlo and Barcelona in 2019, the four-time Caja Magica champion Rafael Nadal suffered another blow in front of the home crowd, losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.
The young Greek advanced to his second Masters 1000 final (Nadal ousted him in Toronto the previous summer) after a grueling battle and two hours and 34 minutes, winning six points less than Rafa and saving 11 out of 16 break chances to stay alive against the mighty opponent.
Nadal served at 73%, but that brought him nothing, facing 14 break points after barely losing a point behind the initial shot against Wawrinka last night, unable to overpower the young opponent who did everything right in sets he won.
Stefanos sprayed almost 30 forehand unforced errors, backing those with 32 winners and leaving Nadal on a 28-31 ratio, which wasn't enough for the triumph. Nothing could separate them in the shortest and most extended exchanges.
Stefanos won the battle in the rallies between five and eight shots, returning well and keeping his backhand safe to find a way towards the finish line and one of his best wins.
Rafael Nadal lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Madrid 2019 in three sets.
The opening set lasted for almost an hour, as they pushed each other to the limits and created 13 break chances.
At 4-4, Stefanos grabbed a pivotal break and saved a break point in the next game to seal the first part of the match and boost confidence ahead of the rest of the encounter. Nadal delivered his best tennis in set number two, outplaying the opponent entirely for 6-2, rattling off the last four games and standing as the favorite in the deciding set.
Instead of that, Stefanos found the range on the return again, sending deep balls and keeping the points on his racquet with bold tennis that secured three consecutive breaks for him. Nadal got broken from 40-15 in the fifth game and wasted chances in the next one to find himself 4-2 down.
Tsitsipas grabbed another break in game seven and converted the fourth match point at 5-3 when Nadal netted a backhand to celebrate the victory and advance into the final.