The first meeting between Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev was the most awaited match of the Wednesday’s program, and it didn’t fail to impress. Nadal prevailed 6-7 6-0 7-5, after saving a match point in the 9th game of the third set. In fact, Sascha led 5-2 but was not able to bring the match home. The first set was just like the rollercoaster ride, with ups and downs for both players. Zverev served for the set in game 10 but got broken, and after that he saved 2 set points in the tie break to take it 10-8. Nadal was ruthless in the second set, winning it 6-0 by storm, but his level dropped in the third set, just like in most of the matches in the last 2 years. Alexander was 5-2 up, but he couldn’t hold his nerves, losing 5 games in a row, in addition to that match point he missed after relatively easy shot. Here’s what both players had to say in their press conferences:
Nadal was pleased that he won the match, explaining how tough was to play against such a good rival:
“Very happy for the victory, obviously. I have been fighting during the whole match. First set I had big chance with not a difficult forehand down the line that I missed. So that first set probably will be the key, if I was able to hit that forehand right place, no? But after that, I think I played a great second set. But at the beginning, sometimes when win a set that easy is dangerous for the beginning of the next one, no?
The beginning of the third he played aggressive, and I think I stopped a little bit the rhythm, so I was in trouble, no? Was a great victory. You know, it’s obvious that I played against a great player, a player who was serving unbelievable, at the beginning especially. He served well whole match apart from some double faults. But you think when somebody is serving with that speed in the second serve, some double faults are the normal thing, no? Is a great victory, as I said before. I’m very happy about it. I am especially happy about the mentality on court, the spirit of fight during the whole match, believing that I can win a match during the whole time even in the tougher situations. So, yeah. Very happy for the victory.”
He struggled on return, faced with very strong serves from the German, on both first and second, and he said it was hard to adapt in return games:
“Well, beginning of the match he was serving over 133 first serves and second serves over 120. I was trying to return inside the court, as I did every day, but with the second serve 120 miles with a lot of spin, 124, 123, 120, was impossible, no? At the beginning when that happened I was in a little bit of trouble, because I felt like I cannot lose my serve, because if I lose my serve and he was serving that way, is impossible. So I felt a little bit the pressure at the beginning. But then I think I returned really well during the whole match, no? First serve. Second serve I decided to go back three, four meters behind the baseline, because from inside he was – he’s young, ready to take the risks, and if the opponent wants to take the risk on the second serve and he’s having success, it’s difficult to make something, no?
I decided to go back and tried to put more balls in, and I think worked well. I think I had enough breaks to win the match. Negative thing is I lost my serve twice in the third, something that cannot happen, especially after having the break back. But that’s it. No, no, no, the match was tough. I think any player can win, and is true he had a big chance with match point and that volley. Sorry for him. I think at the same time, I deserve victory like this after couple of loses with big chances to win, too.”
Asked about Zverev’s time violation after one long point, Rafa added:
“The real thing is I don’t remember — the best matches I watched, in my opinion, was not the matches that was matches that every point was two, three shots. No. That’s the real thing. That’s don’t involved the crowd to the match. You know, that’s don’t — this is not emotional game, you know, when you hit one, two, three shots and that’s it. And the people loves the sport when the sport become emotional. To become emotional needs drama, needs physical issue, needs long points. And if you let one long points, it’s obvious that the rule is not the right one. But I will not say. Again, everybody knows what I think about it, and that’s it. No, no, no, nothing to do. Somebody wanted that rule, and when somebody with a lot of power want the rule, the people who run the sport follow that. So that’s it.”
Like usual, Nadal finished with the words of encourage about his game and fighting abilities:
“Well, was important match mentally. Physically in terms of tennis, too. Because I was able to find some solutions in a tough moments. I was able to play some good points in tough moments. Is obvious that I need more matches to play with more solid, more confidence during the whole time. But I am getting there. You know, winning these kind of matches helps, and I hope to be ready for the next match and keep playing with the same positive attitude. We’ll see. I will keep playing with that passion, and I hope to recover my game and hope to recover my full confidence playing with that passion, with that positive factor follows time here.”