Clay is Nadal’s favorite and most productive surface. So when he loses on it its bound to make headlines. To lose it in straight sets is all the more eye catching. Rafa has only won the title in Barcelona thus far in the clay court season which by his lofty standards has gone off to a poor start. Sasha Zverev impressed particularly in the first set where he was 4-2 down a break and came back to win 6-4. Now the Rafa forehand is notoriously difficult to counter but Zverev shows how in this point,4-2 to Rafa(30-30). Whenever your opponent comes to the net, he or she leaves a gap either side because he will place himself centrally. Sasha could have gone cross court and still won the point. Nadal had the one break for the whole match.
Who can outhit Nadal from the baseline? Zverev can. The German was finding the corners with alarming regularity. The one break was enough in the second to win the set and match 6-4. Experience has taught us not to rule out the 20 times Grand Slam Champ based on teh build up tournaments to the French Open. Last year Nadal hardly played much or won especially on clay but he crushed all before him to lift yet another Roland Garros title. Zverev moves on to the semis to face Dominic Thiem of Austria in a match up worthy of the final. Unseeded Casper Ruud of the Netherlands and Italy’s Matteo Berrettini the eighth seed.