After what was perhaps a surprisingly difficult opening round encounter, Rafael Nadal was not troubled today as he stormed past Alexander Zverev, celebrating his 20th birthday, in a dominant 6-1, 6-1 victory at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.
After both Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka were upset earlier on in the day, many people thought Zverev, who had pushed Nadal hard in both their previous encounters, to trouble the Spaniard. The German, however, was simply far too timid and not good enough, hitting a staggering 34 unforced errors as the so-called ‘King of Clay’ eased into the quarterfinals.
Against a below-par opponent, Nadal did not have to be at his very best but was still extremely solid, hitting 12 winners and just two more unforced errors, and with the likes of Murray and Wawrinka now out, he’ll be fancying his chances of a tenth title in Monte-Carlo even more. The Spaniard faces Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals.
Nadal storms past below par Zverev to take the opening set
Heading into this match expectations were high for a tight battled, fuelled by the upsets earlier on in the day, though it was pretty evident early on in the opening set that Nadal would be mostly in control today.
The Spaniard bageled Kyle Edmund in the first set yesterday, and following two comfortable service holds of his own, Nadal broke in Zverev’s second service game to take a 3-1 lead, taking advantage of the German’s seeming lack of urgency and surprisingly timid play, with just four winners to his name in the first set.
The Spaniard was very solid, not spectacular, on court, but he didn’t need to be any more as he continued to dictate, winning 75 percent of the shorter rallies, and he successfully piled the pressure once again as he forced another break of serve out of the 14th seed, comfortably holding after that to take the first set 6-1.
Nadal quickly seals his place in the last eight
Clearly buoyed by his own solid tennis and a seeming lack of opposition from Zverev, Nadal cranked up the pressure and quickly saw his way into the quarterfinals.
The Spaniard broke Zverev to start the second set in what seemed like the blink of an eye, and, after other comfortable service game of his own, broke through the Zverev serve once again, this time in an extremely tight game, to give himself what was undoubtedly an unassailable lead.
The frustration began to show for Zverev, smashing his racket completely in half as he fell a double break down on what will be a birthday he’ll like to forget. After fighting from 15-40 down at 0-4, he managed to avoid the humiliation of being bageled with an ace at game point, but that was the final show of resistance, with a double fault in his next service handing Nadal an easy win in just 69 minutes.