Zverev Beats Nadal For Third Straight Time, Thiem Rallies Past Isner At Madrid Masters

by Staff | May 7th, 2021, 10:32 pm
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After two wins indoors, Alexander Zverev won his third straight match against Rafael Nadal, this time doing it on Rafa’s favorite surface and in front of his home fans.

Nadal was ahead early by Zverev stayed composed, proved the more aggressive player and cruised to a fairly routine 6-4, 6-4 victory over Nadal.

Nadal began the match muscling his was ahead 4-2 with a break and in firm control. But the German, who also has a Madrid title to his name, didn’t panic and he began to dictate points and finish rallies. Zverev ended the match with a whopping 28 winners to Nadal’s just six.

“To beat Rafa on a clay court in Spain, you have to play your best,” Zverev said. “I’m extremely happy to have done that. Yeah, we’ll see what the next few matches hold for me.”

Nadal was stunned that he let a 4-2 lead with serve slip away like that.

“I had the match under control at the beginning, playing well for six games, probably playing better than him,” Nadal said.

“Then in the 4-2 serving for 5-2, I did a disaster. Another bad game with my game with 30-Love. Of course, playing against one of the best players of the world, under this circumstances, with this speed of the court, is very difficult to still confident.

“But is true that the serve was difficult to control today. Yeah, well done for him.”

Nadal is now 1-for-6 in last six Madrid Masters in terms of titles. And since the restart, he’s failed to even make a Masters semifinal on clay losing quarters in Rome, Monte Carlo and now Madrid.

In a rematch of their classic US Open final, Zverev moves on to meet Dominic Thiem who was points away from getting upset by John Isner. The American had Thiem on the ropes up a set with break points in the second. Thiem, a 2-time Madrid finalist, hung tough and managed hold a lengthy 2-all game. That gave Thiem the need spark and he eventually wore down Isner to take it 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

“I think we all know that he is one of the best servers in history and the altitude here in Madrid makes it even tougher to return his serve,” said Thiem.

“I was a little bit surprised by his return games. I think he actually attacked both of my serves, the first and the second, and it took me a while to get used to it. If you start a break down against guys like John, it is like starting a set down. I think the momentum of the whole match changed when I saved those four break points in the second.”

In the evening, Casper Ruud kept his great clay run going scoring a 7-5, 6-1 win over Alexander Bublik. Ruud, who stunned Stefanos Tsitsipas yesterday, moves into his third Masters clay semifinal, all since the August restart. He’ll seek his first final on Saturday.

“It will obviously mean a lot. This is the third time now. I hope that’s the lucky charm, like we say,” the 22-year-old Ruud said.

Ruud did face his first break point of the tournament today, but still has yet to drop serve. Up next will be the burly Matteo Berrettini who improved his recent win streak to seven rallying past Cristian Garin 5-7, 6-3, 6-0. The Italian was out for an extended period of time post-Australia due to an ab injury. But after his Belgrade title last year, he’s already in form.

“I’m really proud that I came from not an easy place mentally after my injury. The first match after my injury was really bad in a way, not for the loss but the way I lost it,” Berrettini said.

“I really work hard. There were days where I wasn’t really feeling into practice because I felt like kind of there was a lot of work to be done. Sometimes I was feeling kind of unlucky that I got injured again. It was just tough.

“But then I came back stronger in Belgrade. For here, I proved to myself that I’m strong inside.”

The winner between Berrettini and Ruud will reach their first Masters final. Ruud leads 2-1 and 2-0 on clay with wins at Rome last year and the 2019 French.

“I think he’s a great, great player, especially on clay,” Berrettini said of the Norwegian. “He’s been playing really good, really solid so far this season. We always had, like, tough matches.

“Last year in Rome was really tricky match. Still if I think about it, it hurts. I’m really looking forward to get my revenge, not in a bad way, but just in a way that’s in a sports way.

“Now I’m happy for my win. Tomorrow I’m going to think about Casper. But, I mean, I’m really happy to play in semis against him.”

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