Germany’s Alexander Zverev won his third consecutive match over 20-time major champion Rafael Nadal, on the clay, no less, to reach the semifinals of the Madrid Open on Friday.
The fifth-seeded Zverev stunned the five-time winner of the tournament on his home court 6-4 6-4.
Zverev, who is yet to lose a set this week, will take on third seed Dominic Thiem for a place in the final.
“Definitely one of the biggest wins of my career so far, especially on clay against Rafa. It is the toughest thing to do in our sport,” Zverev said afterward. “Beating him in his house, in Spain, is incredible but the tournament is not over yet.”
Zverev, the 2018 Madrid Open winner and current No. 6-ranked player in the world, converted three of six break points en route to victory in an hour and 47 minutes.
Nadal, who won the Barcelona Open last week, raced to a 4-2 lead in the first set but allowed Zverev to win four consecutive games.
“I had the match under control at the beginning,” Nadal said, “playing well for six games, probably playing better than him.”
“In the 4-2 (game), serving for 5-2, I (had) a disaster. Another bad game with my game (from) 30/0. …
“I tried, (but it) is true that the serve was difficult to control today. Well done (to) him.”
Zverev moves on to meet Austrian Dominic Thiem, a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 winner over American John Isner.
Thiem, the tournament’s No. 3 seed, had to rally from a set down. He saved four break points at 2-2 in the second set and broke Isner at 4-4.
“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,” Thiem said. “I was a little bit surprised by his return games. … I think the momentum of the whole match changed when I saved those four break points in the second (set).”
In the other quarters, Norway’s Casper Ruud defeated Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik 7-5, 6-1, and said he’s pleased with his recent play.
“It’s a great feeling, it’s my third Masters 1000 semi-final, third in a row on clay,” the 22-year-old Ruud said. “I’m just playing the tennis of my life for the moment and I’m enjoying it.”
It took four set points, but Ruud broke Bublik at 6-5 and finished off the match in just 69 minutes.
Ruud takes on eighth-seeded Italian Matteo Berrettini, who rallied from a set down to beat No. 16 Cristian Garin of Chile, 5-7, 6-3, 6-0.
–Field Level Media