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Tennis - ATP Masters 1000 - Madrid Open - Caja Magica, Madrid, Spain - May 7, 2021 Germany's Alexander Zverev and Spain's Rafael Nadal after their quarter final match

 Caja Magica, Madrid, Spain – May 7, 2021 Germany’s Alexander Zverev and Spain’s Rafael Nadal after their quarter final match at Madrid Open. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

MADRID— Rafael Nadal was knocked out of the Madrid Open quarterfinals stage 6-4 6-4 by German Alex Zverev on Friday.

Nadal, a five-time winner in the Spanish capital, was the favorite and top seed having lifted the Barcelona Open trophy last month but played below par on a sweltering spring day.

Zverev struggled in the opening exchanges, finding himself 4-2 down before breaking Nadal twice to turn the match on its head and take the first set.

The fifth-seeded German then powered ahead in the second, breaking Nadal’s serve again and holding out to seal a career-first win on clay against the Spaniard.

He will take on third seed Dominic Thiem in Saturday’s semifinal after the Austrian overcame John Isner 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Later on Friday, Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan plays fellow qualifier Casper Ruud from Norway while eighth seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy faces Chilean 16th seed Cristian Garin.

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