The 25-year-old Maximilian Marterer has been ranked outside the top-200 since August 2019, struggling to find the form after injuries and return into the top-50 where he was in 2018. Marterer has scored six Major victories so far, and three of those came at Roland Garros 2018 when he reached the fourth round, setting the clash against the legend Rafael Nadal.
The Spaniard needed two and a half hours to beat the German 6-3, 6-2, 7-6, struggling in the third set before sealing the deal in the tie break. Ranked 214th, Marterer will return into the Roland Garros main draw, beating three rivals in the qualifying round to feel the Major action for the first time in two years.
In the final match, Marterer took down Felipe Meligeni in style, losing only three games and waiting to find out the opponent in the first round. After the win, Marterer said that he watched the highlights of his clash against Rafa from three years ago, using it as an inspiration and remembering he can play high-level tennis.
Nadal broke Marterer five times and suffered two breaks to seal the deal in straight sets and advance into the quarters, securing his 900th ATP victory. Rafa finished the match with 37 winners and 28 unforced errors, while Marterer stood on 24 winners and 32 mistakes, doing everything he can to impose his shots and move the defending champion from the comfort zone.
The youngster opened the match with a break before Nadal got it back in game four to level the score at 2-2. Marterer had two more break chances in the next game, but Rafa fended them off and broke at love a few minutes later for a 4-2 advantage.
Maximilian Marterer played against Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros 2018.
Two solid serves pushed Rafa over the finish line in game nine, and he carried that rhythm into set number two as well, dropping five points in four service games and scoring breaks in the first and seventh games for a commanding 6-2.
The final set delivered a tight battle that lasted for 70 minutes, as they traded breaks in games four and five to reach the tie break where Rafa prevailed 7-4 to avoid further struggle and seal the deal. "I watched the highlights of my match against Rafa the day before qualies started as motivation.
I wanted to see how I was playing that day, to make me remember how well I could play, to fire me up. I have it all in my head. I remember how nervous and tight I was in the beginning when I was walking on the court with Rafa.
But also, after a great fight, particularly in the third set tie break, I'll never forget the memory of the handshake. It's often in my mind when I think of Roland-Garros. Whenever I think of my career, it's still the biggest success so far, so it always gives me a boost to return here.
It's great; my best tennis of 2021 so far has been here. It's been a great couple of days here; something felt different right from the beginning; I was smooth. I feel like my game went up a level every time I progressed, so I'm thrilled to get through," Maximilian Marterer said.