ATP

Nadal stunned at Madrid Open by inspired Zverev

By Sports Desk May 07, 2021

Alexander Zverev recorded the biggest win on clay of his career as he stunned Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open.

Nadal, a five-time champion at this event, was a break up in the first set of his 15th quarter-final at Caja Magica but lost 6-4 6-4 in an hour and 44 minutes.

Zverev had won the previous two meetings with Nadal, both on indoor hard courts, after losing five consecutive matches against the 20-time major champion including a 6-1 6-1 rout in Monte Carlo in their first clay contest four years ago.

The world number six has five clay-court titles to his name, including this event in 2018, but defeating 13-time French Open champion Nadal on his favourite surface in front of a home crowd ranks among Zverev's finest achievements.

It looked as though Nadal was assuming control when he broke to love to lead 4-2 in the first set, but Zverev responded with a break back at the first time of asking.

The German had spoken of the Madrid courts playing faster than other clay events and the conditions certainly seemed to suit his fearless approach as Nadal struggled to deal with his crosscourt backhand.

He won the next three games to clinch a first set in which he lost just four of 16 points behind his first serve.

While Zverev looked increasingly confident, mixing up his shot depth and frequently coming to the net, Nadal cut an unusually frustrated figure even as he showed customary battling qualities to ward off a break point at 1-1.

However, more powerful hitting from Zverev saw him break to lead 4-2, and although he missed two chances for a double break, he closed out the match with minimal fuss.

"Definitely one of the biggest wins of my career," Zverev, who will face Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals, told Amazon Prime Sport. "Beating Rafa on clay is one of the toughest things to do in our sport."

Related items

  • Medvedev growing in confidence on grass after Mallorca progress Medvedev growing in confidence on grass after Mallorca progress

    Daniil Medvedev is set for just the third grass-court semi-final of his ATP Tour career at the Mallorca Championships.

    Medvedev, who has reached two hard-court grand slam finals, as well as winning last year's ATP Finals, has never been beyond the last four on grass. He has only done so once on clay.

    The Russian will get another chance on Friday, though, against Pablo Carreno Busta.

    That is his reward for beating Casper Ruud, who Medvedev acknowledged likely also does not favour the grass season.

    "I don't think grass is his best surface, but in the first set he was playing top level and I couldn't get any break points," Medvedev said after beating Ruud 7-5 6-1. 

    "But as soon as he started serving a bit worse and making some errors, I tried to use it as fast as I could.

    "It was important to win the first set and not in a tie-break, this gives me a boost of confidence."

    Carreno Busta defeated Jordan Thompson in straight sets but was not followed into the semis by either of the other Spaniards in action.

    Third seed Roberto Bautista Agut was toppled by Sam Querrey, as Feliciano Lopez lost to Adrian Mannarino.

    At the Viking International in Eastbourne, there is an Australian in each semi-final after wins for Alex de Minaur and Max Purcell.

    De Minaur wore down Vasek Pospisil 6-4 6-4 and now faces Kwon Soon-woo, who was similarly comfortable against Ilya Ivashka.

    Purcell battled past Andreas Seppi, recovering from a tough second set in which he succumbed 6-1, but must now face another Italian.

    Third seed Lorenzo Sonego secured his semis spot by blasting past Alexander Bublik 6-1 7-5.

  • Giorgi dumps out top seed at Eastbourne, Bad Homburg washed out Giorgi dumps out top seed at Eastbourne, Bad Homburg washed out

    Camila Giorgi extended her strong run at the Viking International in Eastbourne as she dumped out top seed Aryna Sabalenka on Thursday.

    The Italian had already beaten defending champion Karolina Pliskova en route to the last eight and pulled off another upset as she claimed a 7-6 (7-5) 0-6 6-4 win over Sabalenka.

    Giorgi's bid for the third WTA Tour title of her career will now continue with a semi-final against Anett Kontaveit on Friday.

    The Estonian also needed three sets to book her place, bouncing back from losing the opener to beat Viktorija Golubic 2-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-5.

    Daria Kasatkina was unable to build on her win over fourth seed Iga Swiatek in the last round as she missed out on a spot in the semi-finals.

    The Russian took the first set against Jelena Ostapenko but failed to build on that success as the Latvian ran out a 1-6 7-5 6-2 winner.

    In the final match of the day, Anastasija Sevastova was beaten by Elena Rybakina, who had earned her place in the quarters by beating second seed Elina Svitolina the day before.

    World number 61 Sevastova, who eliminated Coco Gauff, won the first set 6-2, but Rybakina fought back to claim the next two 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-5).

    Rainy conditions ensured there was no play at this week's other WTA event held in Bad Homburg, Germany, though one player was able to secure passage to the semi-finals.

    Sara Sorribes Tormo claimed her place in the next round after Victoria Azarenka, her scheduled opponent, pulled out due to injury.

  • Thiem out of Wimbledon, faces long lay-off before US Open defence Thiem out of Wimbledon, faces long lay-off before US Open defence

    Dominic Thiem has been ruled out of Wimbledon after tests on a wrist injury and faces a race to be fully fit in time to defend his US Open title.

    The world number five retired from his match against Adrian Mannarino in the Mallorca Championships on Tuesday, when 5-2 up in the opening set.

    Checks on the wrist by a specialist in Barcelona have shown Thiem needs time away from tennis, meaning Wimbledon is off the table along with tournaments in Hamburg and Gstaad in July.

    According to a medical bulletin issued on Thiem's social media accounts, it will be five weeks before he can remove a wrist splint and begin to step up his recovery.

    With the US Open beginning on August 30, that does not leave a lot of time for Thiem to recover physical fitness and find his best tennis. He would have been seeded number four at Wimbledon.

    The medical bulletin read: "Tests found that there is a 'detachment of the posterior sheath of the ulnar side of the right wrist', an injury that will not allow him to compete in the circuit for several weeks.

    "Thiem will wear a wrist splint for five weeks before beginning a progressive process of specific, functional rehabilitation to regain mobility as well as muscle strength in his wrist and ultimately return to training on court."

    Thiem, who had already decided against playing at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, appears to be hoping his lay-off is not as long as the experts have forecast.

    He will undergo MRI scans and tests as his recovery progresses, and the 27-year-old Austrian said: "I'm going to do everything the doctors say in order to recover as quickly as possible.

    "They've informed me that I might be out for several weeks, but I will do my best to be back on court soon.

    "I'm really sorry for pulling out of the upcoming three tournaments I had in my calendar: Wimbledon, Hamburg and Gstaad.

    "They are very important tournaments for me. I appreciate all the support from the fans in these difficult moments – I'm determined to come back stronger."

    Thiem's absence is another blow for Wimbledon, with Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka having already announced they would not be playing the tournament.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.