After losing three matches on clay to Rafael Nadal, Alexander Zverev was ready to challenge the king of clay in Madrid 2021. Zverev and Nadal met in the quarter-final, and the German scored a rock-solid 6-4, 6-4 triumph in an hour and 44 minutes.
Alexander described it as one of the most significant ones of his career, praising Rafa and highlighting how tough it is to beat him on clay. Nadal played well against Carlos Alcaraz and Alexei Popyrin in the previous rounds but could only do a little in this one, playing passive tennis and struggling on serve and return.
The crowd’s favorite stayed under ten winners. On the other hand, Zverev took charge and hit 28 winners and 25 unforced errors that pushed him through. The German had a massive advantage in the shortest and mid-range rallies.
He closed the exchanges mainly before the ninth stroke and took 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 follow the rival’s pace.
Zverev created six break points and converted three, dropping serve once in the early stages and never looking back behind the initial shot.
Alexander Zverev defeated Rafael Nadal in straight sets in Madrid 2021.
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 stayed calm and broke back in the next game after forcing Rafa’s error at the net. He saved a break chance in the next one to level the score at 4-4. The German grabbed his second straight break 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. A four-time Caja Magica champion faced two more break points in game seven that could have sent him 5-2 down. Rafa saved them to bring the game home but could not do anything on the return, as Alexander held at 15 in game ten to seal the deal and remain on the title course.
“I defeated Rafael Nadal on clay; it’s one of my most significant victories ever. It’s the most challenging thing to do in our sport. Beating him in front of the home fans in Spain is incredible,” Alexander Zverev said.