The Madrid Masters moved from indoor hard court to clay in 2009, bringing together the best players in the world in the Caja Mágica. Rafael Nadal failed to clinch the title in the first edition, securing the first of four trophies in front of the home crowd in 2010. Nadal won again in 2013, 2014 and 2017, and was unable to fight for the title in the previous three editions. Rafa should be back in action in Madrid in a couple of weeks, hoping to put in a good performance at the event where he lost in the quarterfinals to Alexander Zverev a year ago. The German knocked down the Spaniard for the third time in a row and celebrated the first win over the king of clay on the slower surface. Despite a promising start, the local favorite lost ground and experienced a 6-4 6-4 loss. Rafa squandered his chances to carve out a more significant lead, and Alexander took command from the second set of the opening set to control the score and advance to the semi-finals. Zverev was the more aggressive player, reducing Nadal to six winners. The German controlled the pace with his serve and his forehand, and dominated a quadruple winner in the short and middle exchanges. Nadal did not like his performance after opening a 4-2 lead. He played a disastrous seventh game to lose serve and momentum. Instead of opening a 5-2 gap, the Spaniard allowed his rival to come back to 4-4. Rafa wasted a game point in the ninth game to experience another break and lose the first set 6-4. With nothing going his way, Nadal was unable to move his opponent out of his comfort zone or impose his shots in the second set. Alexander broke him at 2-2 and served well in the remaining games to seal it 5-4 and go through to the semi-finals.
Rafa is recovering from an abdominal tear
Rafael Nadal entered the world tennis scene as a ‘future star’ over two decades ago. Despite that, he has worked relentlessly hard on all aspects of his game over the years. “It is important to go to training every day with the illusion of learning and that is what we try to teach. Training for training doesn’t make sense, you always have to go to the track with the aim of improving something even if you don’t get it later. That, mentally, helps you a lot to be awake and active. I don’t understand life any other way,” the Mallorca native said on the same.