"King of Clay" Impressive In Monte Carlo
Rafael Nadal has long been nicknamed the “King of Clay”. His record on the red dirt is unprecedented and with Roger Federer being the only person standing in the way of three titles so far in 2017, he has returned to a tournament that has been kind to him in the past as he seeks his first of the year. Nadal has won nine Monte Carlo Rolex Masters. On Thursday, he schooled the up-and-coming Alexander Zverev in impressive fashion, 6-1, 6-1.
After a less than stellar win against Kyle Edmund on Wednesday, Nadal exhibited his prowess on clay that earned him the nickname and a large trophy case full of clay titles, on Thursday.
Ripping his signature forehands, the Spaniard did damage from the baseline as he controlled the court throughout. He found his stride early winning nine games in a row that carried into the second set. Nadal’s domination frustrated the young German who was celebrating his 20th birthday. After the veteran broke serve for a second time in the second set to gain a 3-0 lead, Zverev took his frustration out on his racket and received a court violation warning. There would be no stopping Nadal on this day and a replay of their epic Australian Open match earlier in the year would not be in the cards.
The result seemed to surprise Nadal, “Before the match, I thought going to be a big test for me, going to be a very hard match”, he said. 'I went on court knowing it's going to be one of these kind of matches that if you don't play well, you probably going to go out. But I played well. I played much better than yesterday.”
However, despite the outcome, Nadal acknowledged that the gap between the big four and the next-generation players such as Zverev is not that large. “The real thing is Zverev is ready to win against anybody, no? Before the match, I thought today is one of those matches that I really can lose. Then happen what happen. Great news for me. If I play against him tomorrow, I going to keep thinking is one of these kind of matches that I can lose.'
Nadal will face Diego Schwartzman on Friday.