Alexander Zverev produced a powerful display to topple Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-4 to reach the semi-finals of the Madrid Open.
Nadal was bidding to win the event for a sixth time, but he was completely overwhelmed by his German opponent.
Things looked positive for Nadal when he worked a break of serve in the sixth game, but Zverev hit back immediately.
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There was controversy in the eighth game of the first set as Zverev became embroiled in a heated argument with the umpire over a disputed line call.
Nadal earned a break point shortly afterwards as Zverev threatened to boil over, but the 2018 champion steeled himself to hold and broke the Spanish great shortly afterwards to take the first set.
Zverev continued to hit with great power from the back of the court and he worked a break point in the third game of the second set, but Nadal fended it off with a cute drop shot.
For all that Nadal attempted to fight his way into the contest, he was unable to deal with Zverev’s weight of shot.
The pressure told in the fifth game as Zverev worked a break of serve. Nadal fended off break points in the seventh game and forced the German to serve out the match in the 10th.
Despite a couple of wayward serves, his forehand stood up to the test as Zverev advanced to the last four, where he will face Dominic Thiem who beat John Isner 3-6 6-3 6-4.
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Nadal said he will take positives from Madrid, but felt he paid the price for not converting the chances he created.
“I’m leaving Madrid with an overall positive feeling, but at the same time with the ugly feeling of having played a match like this today against a great player,” Nadal said. “I think for most of the first set, I was playing better than him. And this is the negative part; while playing better than him in the first set, I still lost 6-4.
This is very difficult to understand, especially for me. When this happens to me, it’s usually in the opposite way – I find a way to win sets even though I’m not playing my best or as good as the opponent.
“I felt like I was playing better for much of the first set, but after a couple of errors – unjustifiable errors at the worst times – I found myself down a set.
“The outlook of the match changed there, both for me and for him. I knew then that a lot of suffering was waiting for me [in the second set], and for him, the knowledge that he just took a huge step forward during the match.”
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