Like in Rome last year and Monte Carlo this April, the king of clay Rafael Nadal suffered an early loss at the Masters 1000 event in Madrid, falling to Alexander Zverev in the quarter-final. Thus, Nadal stayed empty-handed for the third straight year in front of the home fans in Caja Magica, never finding the rhythm and allowing the opponent to control the scoreboard and sail over the finish line in an hour and 44 minutes. Leaving the capital as soon after the press conference, Nadal went home to his paradise island of Mallorca and took his boat out on Saturday, enjoying a beautiful day in the Mediterranean before traveling to Rome on Sunday. Rafa played well against Carlos Alcaraz and Alexei Popyrin in the early rounds in Madrid but couldn’t do much against the top-10 rival.
The crowd favorite stayed under ten winners and not knowing how to find the range or go for riskier shots that would have pushed Zverev away from the comfort zone. On the other hand, the German hit 28 winners and 25 unforced errors to control the strings of the encounter.
Rafael Nadal took a day off on Saturday and enjoyed on his boat.
He had a massive advantage in the shortest and mid-range rallies, closing the exchanges mainly before the ninth stroke and taking the rhythm away from Nadal to advance into the tenth Masters 1000 semi-final. 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 broke back in the next game after forcing Rafa’s error at the net, gathering momentum and saving a break chance in game eight to lock the result at 4-4. The German grabbed the second straight return game 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 and faced two more break chances that could have thrown him 5-2 down. The Spaniard saved them to bring the game home, 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.