Alexander Zverev Reflects on His Biggest Victory Over Rafael Nadal at Madrid Open 2021

Published 05/08/2021, 3:04 AM EDT
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Madrid Open – Caja Magica, Madrid, Spain – May 7, 2021 Germany’s Alexander Zverev and Spain’s Rafael Nadal after their quarter final match REUTERS/Sergio Perez


He not only engineered the biggest upset at the ongoing Madrid Open, but also now has a feat to his name that’s been rarely accomplished in contemporary men’s tennis – Alexander Zverev now has three straight wins over the mighty Rafael Nadal, a stat that will no doubt feature at the top of his tennis resume.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

The 6’6” German used every bit of his tall frame and reach to take down the ‘King of Clay’ on his favorite surface on Friday.

The five-time Madrid champion held a comfortable 3-0 lead over the current World No.6 on clay going into the quarter-final clash, but Zverev threw down the gauntlet early in the proceedings, chipping away at Nadal’s aura and eventually making him wilt under the Madrid sun.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Previous wins helped, says Alexander Zverev on beating Nadal on clay

Speaking to reporters after sending the top-seed crashing out of the tournament, the 24-year-old Zverev said his previous wins against the Spaniard made him believe that he could beat Rafa on clay as well.

He added that putting it past the champion on hard courts – last year’s Rolex Paris Masters and the 2019 ATP Finals – isn’t quite the same as seeing the back of him on dirt, especially in his homeland, and he had to be at his best to get the job done.

Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Madrid Open – Caja Magica, Madrid, Spain – May 7, 2021 Germany’s Alexander Zverev celebrates winning his quarter final match against Spain’s Rafael Nadal REUTERS/Sergio Perez

“It helped that I have beaten him the last few times we played. Of course, on the hard court, it’s very different but yeah.

“To beat Rafa on the clay court in Spain, you have to play at your best,” Zverev said, adding that he was “extremely happy” to have been able to do it.

Zverev didn’t let Rafael Nadal get on top of him

What stood out in his defeat of the champion was how he dominated him from start to finish, and there wasn’t a single moment in the game when Nadal looked to be staging a fightback.

With his powerful serves and rapier-like groundstrokes, the German didn’t let the Spaniard draw him into long rallies, a signature ploy that has worked well for the 13-time French champion on clay over the years.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Also, for the first time in this edition of the tournament, Nadal’s serve was put under severe strain and two decisive breaks in two sets knocked the stuffing out of the 20-time Grand Slam champion.

DIVE DEEPER

“You Miss Normal Teenage Life”: Alexander Zverev Reveals the Sacrifices He Made To Become a Professional Tennis Player

about 1 month ago

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

On Saturday, Zverev will play Dominic Thiem, his fellow finalist at last year’s US Open, for a place in the Madrid final.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

Priyabrata Chowdhury

977 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT