After needing three sets to get past Kyle Edmund in his opening match at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, Rafael Nadal raised his level considerably and crushed Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-1 during third-round action on Thursday. Nadal lost only seven points in seven service games to advance in one hour and eight minutes.
“Before the match, I thought it was going to be a big test for me–a very hard match,” Nadal commented. “I went on court knowing it’s going to be one of these kind of matches that if you don’t play well, you are probably going to go out. But I played well. I played much better than yesterday. I played more aggressively and I played with a very high intensity from the beginning. I was playing much better with my forehand. I maintained that kind of level for all the match, I think. That was the key.”
It was a less than ideal 20th birthday for Zverev, who won fewer than half of the points on both his first and second serves.
Pablo Carreno Busta put up a much better fight against Novak Djokovic, even coming within five points of an upset. The Spaniard had two break points to go up 5-4 in the final set, but Djokovic saved both of them and ultimately prevailed 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 after two hours and 26 minutes.
It was a second straight scare for the second-ranked Serb, who beat Gilles Simon 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 on Tuesday after Simon served for the match at 5-4 in the third.
Whereas Djokovic has been snatching victory from the jaws of defeat this week, Andy Murray did the opposite on Thursday. The world No. 1 led Albert Ramos-Vinolas 4-0 in the final set only to go down 2-6, 6-2, 7-5.
“At 4-0, one of the service games where I got broken, I didn’t play such a good game,” Murray admitted. “Then he obviously started playing better towards the end of the set. I still had a bunch of chances; I guess both of us did, really. I certainly struggled a bit at the end of the match. A few times today I made some bad decisions. That’s something that, with my team, I’ll look at, watch some parts of the match over, see the shots that I chose, and what I would do differently.”
“The most normal thing would be to lose the match,” Ramos-Vinolas said when asked about the 4-0 deficit. “But today it’s one of those days that sometimes happens. I still fought. I was fighting. I was 0-4, and I thought that I need to keep playing every point. Then, at the end, I won. I don’t know what to say.”