Rafael Nadal: ‘I played better than Alexander Zverev in the opening six games’

For the first time in a career, Rafael Nadal has failed to reach the clay-court Masters 1000 semi-final in three consecutive tournaments! Nadal lost to Diego Schwartzman in Rome last September and did the same in Monte Carlo and Madrid this spring, falling to Andrey Rublev and Alexander Zverev to stay empty-handed ahead of Rome. Seeking the first Madrid Open title since 2017, the Spaniard experienced the third straight loss against the German last Friday and the first on clay. Speaking about the match, Rafa said that he had the upper hand in the opening six games, serving well and forging a 4-2 advantage. Staying calm, Alexander erased the deficit in the seventh game and never looked back, rattling off ten of the final 14 games to beat the home favorite 6-4, 6-4 en route to his fourth Masters 1000 crown and the second in Madrid.

Rafael Nadal made a good start vs. Alexander Zverev before losing in straight sets.

The German had a massive advantage on the court, hitting almost 30 winners and reducing Nadal’s shots to control the rallies. Rafa grabbed that early break but couldn’t do anything on the return in the rest of the encounter, suffering three breaks to propel the rival through. Returning at 2-4, Alexander passed Rafa at the net to pull the break back and gain confidence and momentum. From 30-0 at 4-4, Nadal wasted a game point and got broken when his backhand found the net, saying goodbye to the opening set. Zverev had the advantage in the second and claimed a break with a forehand down the line winner at 2-2, moving in front and keeping the lead until the end.

“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.

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