Reaching the semifinals of the Paris Masters was never a problem for 20-time Major champion Rafael Nadal provided he was fit. The Spaniard lost to Alexander Zverev in the semi-final last November and was unable to compete this year, so he has yet to win one of the few trophies that are still missing from his extensive collection.
After winning the 20th Major title 13 months prior, Nadal returned to Paris a few weeks later but was unable to summon his finest performance. The Spaniard put up a fight in the second leg of each of the four matches, winning three of them before leaving the field after falling to an excellent German 6-4, 7-5.
With no chance against Zverev, who arrived in Paris after winning back-to-back indoor championships at home in Cologne, Nadal had to fight hard against Feliciano Lopez and Pablo Carreno Busta to land in the bottom four. On an indoor court, Alexander defeated Rafa for the second time in a row, winning in straight sets while hitting 13 aces, saving two of three break points, and giving up three breaks.
With 20 more winners than Rafa and an unreturned serve on 30% of all service points, the German player recorded 37 winners and 18 unforced errors. Zverev outplayed Nadal in both short and extended rallies, maintaining his composure under pressure to advance to the seventh Masters 1000 final.
After forcing an error from the 20-time Major champion, the younger player broke in the third game of the first game, firing a booming serve for a 3-1 advantage after 14 minutes. In game seven, Nadal painted a backhand down the line to stay in the match and was looking for some opportunities on the return in the remaining games of the set.
Instead, Zverev finished off Game 10 in 38 minutes with a 6-4 victory.
Nadal has made a rapid recovery.
Rafael Nadal explains why he prefers to play tennis with his left hand in his book Rafael Nadal: My Story. He declared, “I’ve seen news reports claiming that Toni pushed me to play left-handed and did this to make me harder to play against.
It’s not true, though. It is a fabrication of the media. The fact is that I started playing when I was very young, and I used both hands to hold the racquet on the forehand and backhand because I wasn’t strong enough to hit the ball over the net.