‘It was an important victory against a great player,’ says Rafael Nadal after downing Alexander Zverev

Rafael Nadal roared back into top form on clay by dismissing Alexander Zverev 6-3 6-4 in the Rome Masters quarter-finals.

The world number six got the better of Nadal in Madrid last week en-route to winning the tournament, but the Spaniard was able to extract a degree of revenge for that defeat.

Zverev started poorly, but there was no denying that Nadal produced some of his very best tennis to defeat the German.

“[I’m] happy,” Nadal said. “I think I played a very solid match, with not many mistakes, playing the way that I have to.

“[It was] an important victory for me against a great player so I’m happy to be in semi-finals here in Rome one more time.

“It builds confidence for myself and another it’s a victory against a great player.”

Nadal will face in-form big-serving Reilly Opelka in the semi-finals.

It will the the giant American’s first ever Masters level semi-final, but Nadal knows he will have his work cut out to contain him.

“Opelka is a tough opponent,” Nadal said. “Very complicated. “He has a huge service so I have to be focused on my serve.

“I have to play well, be solid, and try to make him play one more shot. In a Masters 1000, you have to be focused.”

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