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Rafael Nadal beat Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 in Valencia on Sunday to pull Spain level with Germany in the 2018 Davis Cup World Group quarter-finals, forcing a crucial decider with a semi-final spot at stake.
As a result of Nadal’s win, the victor between David Ferrer and Philipp Kohlschreiber will decide which of the two countries advances to the Davis Cup semi-finals.
Fabio Fognini will look to replicate Nadal’s feat and bring Italy back on level terms with France later on Sunday when he faces Lucas Pouille. If Fognini wins, it means the winner of Jeremy Chardy and Andreas Seppi’s clash moves his nation into the next stage.
Marin Cilic can seal Croatia’s place in the final four if he manages to beat Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin on Sunday afternoon, while Borna Coric, 21, is set to face Dmitry Popko, also 21, in the fifth rubber between the two countries.
The United States have already cemented their spot in the next stage of the contest after speeding to an unassailable 3-0 win over Belgium, but John Isner and Sam Querrey will nonetheless be in action later in Nashville, Tennessee.
Read on for a roundup of Sunday’s quarter-final results and to see how the semi-final slate was decided.
Spain 2-2 Germany
Rafael Nadal (ESP) bt. Alexander Zverev (GER): 6-1, 6-4, 6-4
David Ferrer (ESP) vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
France 2-1 Italy
Lucas Pouille (FRA) vs. Fabio Fognini (ITA)
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) vs. Andreas Seppi (ITA)
Croatia 2-1 Kazakhstan
Marin Cilic (CRO) vs. Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ)
Borna Coric (CRO) vs. Dmitry Popko (KAZ)
United States 3-0 Belgium
John Isner (USA) vs. Ruben Bemelmans (BEL)
Sam Querrey (USA) vs. Joris De Loore (BEL)
Visit the Davis Cup website to view the competition bracket and results in full.
Broadcaster Nick Lester commented that Sunday’s Davis Cup collision between Nadal and Zverev was the first time in two years that two top-10 opponents had faced off against one another.
A fiery contest was always expected, but Nadal proved his seniority on clay with a typically resolute run over his opponent on home turf, breaking Zverev at the first time of asking en route to taking the first set in 34 minutes.
The match became more competitive from there as both players dropped their first serves in the second set, although it was again Nadal’s comfort on clay that kept aiming openings in his direction, via the Davis Cup:
Davis Cup @DavisCup
Relentless @RafaelNadal has Zverev on the ropes… and the home fans are loving it!! 👏🇪🇸👏🇪🇸👏🇪🇸
🇪🇸1️⃣🆚2️⃣🇩🇪 #DavisCup https://t.co/h5XSvEmrH2
The gulf in experience between the two became increasingly obvious, and Nadal’s nous in these situations lent itself well to his ability to play under pressure while Zverev looked ruffled.
Shots that might have come off against other opponents didn’t seem to be landing against Nadal, and the German cast a downtrodden figure when Nadal pushed a forehand down the line to clinch a third-set lead:
Winning the opening serve in the third set was the only juncture at which Zverev led throughout the match, and Reem Abulleil of Sport360.com praised Nadal’s improved clay record in this competition:
Reem Abulleil @ReemAbulleil
Nadal extends his clean record in #DavisCup singles matches on clay to 19-0.
Defeats Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 to level the tie for Spain 2-2 against Germany https://t.co/AzgHGhrJZt
All eyes now fall on the decisive fifth rubber to see who out of Germany or Spain progresses in the tournament.