'Always difficult': Strange anomaly continues for Rafa Nadal in Paris

Andrew Reid
·5-min read
Pictured here, Rafael Nadal lost to Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals of the 2020 Paris Masters.
Rafa Nadal's drought at the Paris Masters continues after his semi-final defeat to Alexander Zverev. Pic: Getty

There aren't many tennis tournaments left for Rafael Nadal to win, with Paris generally a happy hunting ground for the 13-time French Open champion.

However, in a bizarre anomaly in the Spaniard's tennis career, the 34-year-old will have to wait another year for a shot at claiming his maiden Paris Masters title.

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The World No.2 - who shares the record of most men's grand slam singles titles with Roger Federer after collecting his 20th major in Paris this year - has won just about all there is to win in tennis.

Nadal is also one of only eight men to have claimed a career grand slam by winning each of the four major tournaments at least once.

When it comes to the Parisian indoor event though, the Spaniard is somewhat inexplicably still searching for his first title.

Nadal had the chance to tick another career milestone off his list after storming into the semi-finals of the Paris Masters, but once again he came up short as Alexander Zverev beat the Spaniard in a convincing straight sets win.

Zverev overpowered top seed Rafael Nadal 6-4 7-5 to reach his first Paris Masters final and set up a showdown with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

It was only the second time that Zverev had prevailed in seven meetings with Nadal after claiming a first straight sets win over the Spaniard at last season's ATP Finals in London.

I'm extremely happy with how the season continued for me after the (coronavirus) break. I'm very happy with my winning streak," Zverev said after winning his 12th consecutive match.

"The final is going to be difficult no matter what because Daniil is a great player, especially on these kind of surfaces, it fits him well."

Zverev faces Medvedev in Paris final

Medvedev earned his place in Sunday's trophy match by dispatching Canadian Milos Raonic 6-4 7-6 (7-4) in the other semi-final.

It will be familiar territory for the finalists as Medvedev won his last of two Masters titles in Shanghai against Zverev last year.

"He beat me in the final of Shanghai and it's going to be a very entertaining match but he's going to be difficult to beat," Zverev said.

Nadal was appearing in a record-extending 74th Masters semi-final but the 20-times major champion has not had the same fortune on the indoor courts of the city where he has claimed 13 French Open titles on clay.

The world number two last featured in a Paris Masters final in 2007 and that unlucky run continued with Zverev's dominant display as the German's power consistently pushed Nadal onto the back foot.

After Nadal finally claimed a break back into the match at 4-4 in the second set, he shook his head when a drop shot from Zverev clipped the top of the net at 5-5 to allow the German the final break that helped him through to a seventh Masters final.

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Despite Nadal's latest Paris Masters heartbreak, the Spaniard insisted it was a "positive tournament" as he now turns his attention to another indoor tournament he's yet to taste victory in - the ATP Tour Finals in London.

"It has been a positive tournament for me. Of course not happy about the loss, but that's part of the game," said Nadal, who has also never won the Paris Masters.

"I spent hours on court. Of course I wanted to win the tournament, but it's always difficult.

"But I had the right attitude during the whole event, I think, fighting in every match.

"That gave me the chance to play four matches that I think will be helpful for London. I need to adjust a couple of things, but I am doing well on all the important things."

Rafael Nadal is seen here in action during the Paris Masters indoor event.
Nadal is keen to take the positives into his upcoming campaign at the ATP Tour Finals in London. Pic: Getty

The Spaniard, playing for the first time since winning a record-extending 13th French Open title across Paris at Roland Garros last month, was never at his best on the indoor hard courts.

He claimed his 1,000th career win with a comeback victory over Feliciano Lopez in the second round and also had to fight back from a set down to beat Pablo Carreno Busta in the quarter-finals.

Nadal has only won one of his 86 ATP titles on indoor hard courts and that success came in Madrid over 15 years ago.

"I need to find a better feeling with the backhand on this surface, because when I hit the ball sometimes I feel that I can miss it," he admitted.

"To compete at this highest level, sometimes it's a little bit tougher."

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with agencies