Nadal Denies Zverev Birthday Gift

Rafael Nadal didn’t give Alexander Zverev the birthday gift he desired the most on Thursday at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters in a commanding 6-1, 6-1 third-round victory over 69 minutes. The Spanish superstar did little wrong against the 20-year-old #NextGenATP German as he improved to 60-4 lifetime at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, where he is attempting to lift a 10th trophy.

“Before the match, I thought it was going to be a big test for me, a very hard match,” admitted Nadal. “I went on court knowing it’s going to be one of these kind of matches that if you don’t play well, you are probably going to go out. But I played well. I played much better than yesterday [against Kyle Edmund].

“I played more aggressively and I played with a very high intensity from the beginning. I was playing much better with my forehand. I maintained that kind of level for all the match, I think. So that was the key.”

Memories soon disappeared of Nadal’s struggle to beat Zverev at the Australian Open in January, as the fourth seed won nine straight games from 1-1 in the opener. He lost nine service points in total, wrapping up his 21st match win of the year after Zverev hit his first double fault.

Nadal has a 367-34 clay-court match wins record, according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, with the best winning percentage (.915) of any player in the Open Era. The Mallorcan remains on course to lift a record 50th crown on red dirt this week and will next face Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman.

Nadal leads Schwartzman 2-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, but the pair has not met since the 2015 US Open. World No. 41 Schwartzman advanced to the last eight by saving all five break points he faced in a 6-3, 6-0 win over qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff, who had toppled eighth seed Grigor Dimitrov on Wednesday night.

Zverev currently leads the Emirates ATP Race To Milan for a place at the 21-and-under Next Gen ATP Finals, from 7-11 November. Buy Tickets

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