Sascha Seeks Redemption Against Rafa
German takes wild card into Barcelona, hoping to get a re-match with nine-time champion Rafa Nadal
Still smarting from his 6-1, 6-1 loss to Nadal at last week's Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, Zverev is aware that the performance did not reflect his billing as a future World No. 1. But instead of trying to avoid Nadal for the remainder of the clay season, the German took a wild card into Barcelona in the hope of getting a quick re-match with the winner of 50 clay-court titles.
As luck would have it, eighth-seeded Zverev could meet third-seeded Nadal in the quarter-finals.
"The main reason I came here is because the draw is so strong; it's almost like another Masters 1000," Zverev said. "There's a certain Mr. Rafa Nadal in my section. Maybe some of you remember the match last week. That's in the back of my mind and to be very fair, that's a very big reason why I am here: to get another shot to be on court with him.
"That match will be in the back of my mind for sure this week. I hope I can get there and I hope he can get there as well. He's the greatest player of all time on clay... everybody knows it. He's the only active player with a court named after him. And there's a reason for all that. I want to play him, especially on the clay court. I've played him on hard court a few times and both of those were tight matches. Playing him on clay is always special."
Before last week’s Monte-Carlo blowout, Zverev had pushed Nadal to the limit in their two previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings. In their first meeting, at Indian Wells in 2016, ‘Sascha’ botched a routine forehand volley on match point when serving at 5-4 in the third. Nadal rallied to win the high-quality contest 6-7(8), 6-0, 7-5.
Zverev opens his Barcelona campaign against veteran Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, who claimed his one victory in 15 meetings over Nadal in Barcelona in 2014. Zverev is 13-7 on the year and won his second tour-level title in Montpellier in February. He is 19th in the Emirates ATP Rankings and the leader in the Emirates ATP Race To Milan.