Rafael Nadal wasn’t really in a forgiving mood this week and in one of the earlier rounds youngster Alex Zverev who is tipped to reach the top but he was taught a tough lesson by the king of clay.
Throughout the week in Monte Carlo you couldn’t fault the former world number one who claimed his 10th title by the sea he was just stunning!
I like Zverev I think at the moment he has a good game for a top 10-20 ranked player the next step to get to that top 10 position will be tough but he needs to adapt to his opponent in different situations.
I’ve watched back the match between Nadal and Zverev and to come up with a challenge against Nadal in the form he has been in is tough and to turn up with little variation to play Nadal on clay is surprising.
When playing Nadal on clay you can’t just stand there and hit. The movement and plan was just non-existent and the frustration was there as playing high balls against Nadal won’t win prizes as he will happily camp 3 metres behind the baseline and send the ball back with height and spin jamming your body so sitting on the baseline won’t help.
We saw this in the third game of the match.
The still doesn’t tell the whole story. In a general rally this isn’t a bad backhand line up from Zverev but it’s not a backhand he’s in control of. Nadal is comfortable behind the baseline, just look at the feet. He is ready to move where as Zverev is jammed at this point and forced into hooking a backhand due to the speed and height Nadal sent his way basically inviting him and toying with him behind the baseline and it worked perfectly.
I don’t think in tennis there is time to admire shots until they pop up on a replay. At 1-2 30-40 in the first set Zverev plays a lovely backhand cross court and admires it. This backhand would usually end a rally. It’s flat and powerful but Nadal just gets a quick slice on it and maybe that admiration of the backhand cost him and put him in two minds.
This was the first big moment in the match. Zverev is stuck in two minds does he go cross court forehand and pull Nadal onto his backhand or up the line and follow into the net because realistically the only chance Nadal would have of passing would be down the line or with a lob but you can’t over-think this shot and suddenly a simple shot becomes over complicated!