Alexander Zverev and Rafael Nadal were headed for one of the most exciting Roland Garros matchups this June. After more than three hours, Zverev injured his right ankle and retired in tears as Nadal had a 7-6, 6-6 lead. In the event that the German is unable to recover in time for the US Open, he expects to play once more in September.
Zverev and Nadal faced off twice on clay in two weeks last year. In Madrid, the German defeated the Spaniard, and in Rome’s Foro Italico, Nadal got even. Following a 6-4, 6-4 loss in the Madrid Open quarterfinal, Rafa, who had defeated Alexander three times on clay before to 2021, was unable to continue his spotless record against the German on his preferred surface.
Zverev described it as one of the most crucial victories of his career and it was his third straight victory over Nadal. Rafa displayed strong performance against Alexei Popyrin and Carlos Alcaraz but was unable to make much of an impact on his fellow top-10 challenger.
He played passive tennis, unable to strike the exit door on the serve and return. The fan favorite only managed nine winners, while Zverev gained control and pushed through with 28 winners and 25 unforced errors.
In the shortest and middle rallies, the German had a huge advantage. Prior to the ninth stroke, he was primarily closing the exchanges and disrupting Nadal‘s rhythm to move on to the eleventh Masters 1000 semifinal. Before turning off his motors and straining to match the opponent’s speed, Rafa picked up a 4-2 lead.
Zverev generated six opportunities for breaks and took advantage of three of them, surrendering service just once early on and never looked back after the first shot. They started off the match with five easy holds before Nadal broke at love at 3-2 after Zverev committed a double fault.
Rafael Nadal‘s defeat against Alexander Zverev was one of the best wins of his career, according to Zverev.
After causing Rafa to make a mistake at the net in the following game, Alexander broke back, and in game eight, he saved a break point to tie the match at 4-4.
The German won the return game for the second time in a row and finished the first game with an ace for 6-4 and a huge lift. Following Zverev‘s winning forehand down the line in set number two, Nadal was broken at 2-2 and was then presented with two additional break chances that might have put his rival 5-2 ahead.
The Spaniard spared them so he could take the game home, but he was powerless once he got back. In game 10, Alexander held at 15 to win the match and secure his first triumph over Rafa on the slowest surface. “One of my biggest victories in my career, especially on clay against Rafa.
Beating him in his home in Spain is remarkable; it is the toughest thing to do in our sport “said Alexander Zverev.