Early in the second set of 31-year-old Pablo Cuevas’s three-set quarterfinal win over young phenom Alexander Zverev in the Madrid Open, the veteran Uruguayan chased down a lob on the baseline and nailed this incredible no-look, crosscourt winner.
You’ve seen tweeners, but this is something else. This blind, behind-the-back swat for a perfect passing shot wasn’t only one of the most spectacular shots of the year, it was an inflection point in the match. After erasing Zverev’s game point here, Cuevas went on to win the game for the early break. He then won five consecutive games to take the second set 6-0 and force a decisive third, in which his superb racket control was again on display. At 4-4 in the third set, from behind the baseline, he plunked a pair of drop shots on Zverev that were unbeatable:
Both players held serve in the third set until the final game, when Cuevas broke to win 6-4 and move on to his first career Masters 1000 semifinal, where he’ll face either Dominic Thiem or Borna Coric.
Update, 1:30 p.m. ET: Cuevas represents Uruguay. He was born in Argentina.