Madrid Open 2021: Rafael Nadal Quarterfinal Upset Loss Headlines Friday Results

Jenna CiccotelliCorrespondent IIMay 7, 2021

Spain's Rafael Nadal waves to spectators prior his tennis match against Germany's Alexander Zverev at the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, Friday, May 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
AP Photo/Bernat Armangue

Rafael Nadal will have to wait longer to win his sixth Madrid Open.

The Spanish star was defeated in straight sets in Friday's quarterfinal match by No. 5 Alexander Zverev, who has now defeated Nadal in their last three meetings. 

While winning against the 20-time Grand Slam champion isn't exactly a new feeling, he had never sent Nadal packing on a clay court before Friday. 

Tennis TV @TennisTV

STILL undefeated on the Madrid center court! 🏟@AlexZverev wins 10 of the last 14 games to beat Nadal 6-4 6-4 and reach the Madrid semi-finals, where he will face Thiem#MMOpen pic.twitter.com/rzkYGB2AW1

“Beating Rafa on a clay court is the hardest thing in our sport,” Zverev told reporters after the win. “Not many people have done it. This week so far it’s been incredible for me. It’s an incredible feeling right now.”

José Morgado @josemorgado

Zverev. “One of my best ever wins. On clay against Rafa. In Spain. It’s special. But the tournament isn’t over”

His victory headlined a slate of otherwise predictable results to set up Saturday's semifinals. 

Friday Scores

Casper Ruud def. Alexander Bublik 7-5, 6-1

No. 5 Alexander Zverev def. No. 1 Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-4

No. 3 Dominic Thiem def. John Isner 3-6, 6-3, 6-4

No. 8 Matteo Berrettini def. No. 16 Cristian Garin 5-7, 6-3, 6-0

Draw via Madrid Open


The legendary Nadal had a 4-2 advantage in the first set before Zverev battled back. He broke Nadal's serve twice in that set en route to his four-game winning streak to set up his second-set advantage. 

He won 82 percent of his first serves compared to 62 percent for Nadal, giving up just a pair of break points. 

"Playing against one of the best players in the world, under these circumstances, with this speed of the court, is very difficult to still [feel] confident," Nadal said. "I tried, but the serve was difficult to control today. Well done for him."

Tennis TV @TennisTV

An entertaining rally from Nadal and Zverev - filmed from court level 🎥#MMOpen pic.twitter.com/tSx5qFfZFz

Nadal will now turn his attention to seeking his 14th French Open title. As for the 24-year-old rising star Zverev, he will battle Dominic Thiem in the semifinals, facing another familiar opponent.

The pair met in the 2018 Madrid Open final, when Thiem fell to Zverev in straight sets. 

The U.S. Open champion advanced to the semifinals after coming back to defeat John Isner in three sets. Isner came away with the first set, but the Austrian star broke him down in ensuing action. He won two of four break points compared to Isner, who couldn't regain control and won just one of seven. 

Tennis TV @TennisTV

FOURTH semi-final in a row in Madrid!@ThiemDomi denies Isner a chance at his 100th career third set tiebreak, defeating him 3-6 6-3 6-4!#MMOpen pic.twitter.com/RFjqkKfTCU

He entered the match knowing he would have to break down Isner's serve, heralding the American as "one of the best servers in history." On Friday, the 27-year-old hung right there with him, winning 79 percent of his first serves and 58 percent of his second serves, both figures that bested Isner. 

Still, Isner came away with 18 aces on Friday. 

Tennis TV @TennisTV

Nothing gonna stop @JohnIsner doing his thing...<br><br>Four aces in a row on the clay! 🚀#MMOpen pic.twitter.com/9AB16YYLnu

In the second semifinal, Norway's Casper Ruud will face Matteo Berrettini after both came away in their quarterfinal matches.

Ruud, who like Zverev is undefeated in the Madrid Open thus far, is headed to his third consecutive Masters 1000 semifinal on clay after he cruised to a second set win following a tight 7-5 first-set victory. 

Tennis TV @TennisTV

A THIRD straight Masters 1000 clay-court semi-final for @CasperRuud98!<br><br>The Norwegian eases past Bublik 7-5 6-1 to reach the last 4 in Madrid#MMOpen pic.twitter.com/GX26RcgbOx

The 22-year-old, who hasn't forced a break point all week, won three of nine break points and won as many as eight points in a row while cruising to the win. Alexander Bublik never won consecutive games, dropping 65 percent of his second serves throughout the match.

Cristian Garin took the first set, 7-5, marking the first time all week that Berrettini was a set down. 

Tennis TV @TennisTV

Throwing everything at each other right from the start 🔥#MMOpen pic.twitter.com/JMKFGJSaAK

But the Italian came storming back, first winning five straight games to force a decisive third set, where he didn't relent and come up with the 6-0 win that sealed his trip to the semifinals.