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Rafa Nadal advances to French Open Final after Alexander Zverev retires due to ankle injury

While it wasn’t the way he wanted with his opponent succumbing to injury, the Spaniard will be pleased with his place in the final at Roland Garros.

Paul Rudder
Rafa Nadal advances to French Open Final after Alexander Zverev retires due to ankle injury

In the end what was meant to be another epic match at Roland Garros ended with an injury to the German which forced him to retire, meaning the Spaniard will now march onto the Final.

Alexander Zverev concedes to Rafael Nadal after ankle injury

It was an intense affair on Friday in the French Open semi final. Legend of the sport Rafael Nadal was in the middle of a gripping contest with World No. 3 Alexander Zverev, when the latter ran to to chase a shot and twisted his right ankle. Zverev crumpled to the ground in what appeared to be severe pain while grabbing his lower leg. Covered in the red clay of the court, Zverev was eventually helped to his feet by a trainer and placed in a wheelchair at which point he was taken away. Just minutes later the German could be seen crying as he returned to the court on crutches - his right shoe missing - to officially concede the match.

With three hours on the clock the match was actually not even two sets old although it was on course to be another lengthy battle. With the victory by default, Nadal who was celebrating his 36th birthday became the the second-oldest men’s finalist in French Open history. The Spaniard will now face a Grand Slam final debutante in Casper Ruud on Sunday and if he manages to win his 14th French Open title he will become the oldest champion to do so. “Only thing that I can say is I hope he’s not too bad. Hopefully it’s just the normal thing when you turn your ankle, and hopefully nothing (is broken). That’s what everybody hopes,” Nadal said. “Even if for me it’s a dream to be in the final of Roland Garros, of course that way is not the way that we want it to be. ...If you are human, you should feel very sorry for a colleague.”

Exactly what happened between Nadal and Zverev?

On a rainy Friday afternoon at Court Philippe Chatrier with some 15,000 in attendance, it must be said that Nadal was actually pushed continually by the German in what was shaping up to be a very tight match. After claiming the first set by a by a 7-6 (8) score with an hour and a half on the clock, it was then onto the second set which also appeared to be heading for a tiebreaker until Zverev took his fateful tumble to the ground. A trainer as well as Nadal who walked around the net came to check on Zverev. When the 23 year old finally announced he would be retiring from the match, he shook chair umpire’s hand and then proceeded to give Nadal a hug.

Nadal who was coming off of a grueling quarterfinal win over Novak Djokovic earlier this week showed no signs of wear and tear, but instead spoke about the conditions and how they affected his game. “The conditions were not the ideal for me this afternoon - or the way that I like to play, normally, here,” Nadal said. “That’s why I was not able to create the damage that I wanted.” Nadal also went on to speak about his fallen opponent saying, “He was very unlucky,” Nadal said. “The only thing that I am sure is he is going to win not one - much more than one. So I wish him all the best and a very fast recovery.”

History to be made for both Nadal and Ruud

Should Nadal clinch his 14th French Open trophy, it will also be his 22nd Grand Slam title meaning he will add one more to the men’s record he already holds after his triumph at the Australian Open in January. In case you’re wondering Djokovic and Roger Federer are currently tied 20. On the other side of the net the Norwegian has already written his name in his country’s history books by becoming the first man from Norway to reach a major final. Interestingly, while he’s never face Nadal, the 23-year-old has actually trained at the Spaniard’s academy in Mallorca.

“He’s a perfect example of how you should behave on court: Never give up and never complain. He’s been my idol for all my life,” said Ruud, who is coached by his father, Christian, a pro player from 1991-2001. “I guess this is perfect timing and worth the wait to finally play him in a Grand Slam final.” With that said, Ruud would do well to be conscious of the idea that regardless of the difference in age, Nadal is as lethal as he’s ever been. The Spaniard has perfected the art of hanging on until the end with the same level of intensity for each and every point. Having first won at Roland Garros on his debut at the age of 19, a lot has happened since then. In recent times he’s even alluded to the idea that this might very well be his last time in the French Open, largely due to issues with his left foot, but for the moment he’s focused on the present. “All the sacrifices, and all the things that I need to go through to try to keep playing,” Nadal said, “really make sense when you enjoy moments like I’m enjoying in this tournament.”


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