Rafael Nadal was stuck in the semifinals of a tight, compelling and long French Open when his opponent, third-seeded Alexander Zaverev, ran to chase a shot and twisted his right ankle. Zaverev fell to the ground, cried in agony, and grabbed his lower leg.
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Caving his black dress, arms and legs with rust-colored clay, Zverev was assisted by a trainer, who was then taken from the court in a wheelchair. Minutes later, seeing Nadal crying in a small room at the stadium, Xavier returned to the front of Court Philippe Chatriar with a crutch, took off his right shoe, and was unable to continue the match.
The abrupt end of a 3-hour contest allowed Nadal to become the second-oldest male finalist in French Open history on his 36th birthday. Now he will try to become the oldest champion in a tournament he has already won a record 13 times, facing first-time Grand Slam finalist Caspar Rudd on Sunday.
“All I can say is that I hope he’s not too bad. Hopefully this is normal when you turn your ankle, and hopefully nothing (is not broken). That’s what everyone expects, “said Nadal. “Even if it is a dream for me to reach the Roland Garros final, it is not the way we want it to be. … If you’re human, you should be very sorry for a colleague. “
The roar of the rain against the closed retractable roof of the Philippe Chatriar was audible, and in the crowd of 15,000, many shouted “Ra-fa! Ra-fa!” He drew the first set 7-6 (8) after 1 1/2 hours, appearing to be hard-to-qualify. The second set also goes to a tiebreaker after another 1 1. / 2 hours when Zaverev fell behind the baseline and lost a point that allowed Nadal to serve 6-for-all.
An instructor came out to join him, and also walked around the net to check on Nadal Zaverev. After Zverev returned to the court to talk about retiring from the match, he waved the chair umpire’s hand and then hugged Nadal.
Nadal is battling chronic pain in his left leg and coming up with a pair of wins that lasted more than 4 hours each – including his quarter-final against defending champion Novak Djokovic that ended at 1:15 a.m. Wednesday – but showed no signs. Age, injury or fatigue against 25-year-old Zaverev.
What Nadal said later hurt him the way heavy moisture affected things, the clay sticks to the tennis ball and makes it difficult to apply his thick topspin.
“The situation this afternoon was not ideal for me – or the way I like to play, usually here,” Nadal said. “So I couldn’t make the damage I wanted.”
In addition to bidding for the 14th trophy from the French Open, Nadal could claim his 22nd Grand Slam title to add to the men’s record after his win at the Australian Open in January. Djokovic and Roger Federer tied at 20.
This is also the case for Nadal in Sunday’s final against Ruud: this will be the first time the Spaniard has won the first two legs of a calendar-year Grand Slam.
Norway became the first person to reach a major final after beating 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in the third set with a break of more than 10 minutes. Climate worker who attached himself to the net and knelt in court.
Rudd, 23, has never met Nadal but trained at the King of Claus Academy in Mallorca.
“He is a perfect example of your behavior in court: never give up and never complain. He’s been my idol all my life, “said Rudd, who was coached by his father, Christian, a professional athlete from 1991-2001. “I think it’s the perfect time and finally worth the wait for him to play in the Grand Slam final.”
Xavier was runner-up at the US Open two years ago and won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last summer, but is still looking for his first major title.
“He was very unlucky,” Nadal said. “The only thing I’m sure of is that he’s not one – he’s going to win more than one. So I wish her all the best and a speedy recovery. ”
Xavier has almost doubled the winning set, 40-21, and started an “amazing”, according to Nadal, who called it “a miracle” that he took the first set.
Xavier was leading 4-2 in each set.
But in the first, his racquet flew out of his hand and a wild swing accidentally sent a ball past the chair umpire and fell on his back until it became 10 feet wide on the court. Later, a wrong backhand lets Nadal take a break for the first time, makes it 4-all and sends a red-yellow Spanish flag to the stand.
In the opening tiebreaker, Zverev led 6-2 for four set points. But Nadal erased them, one of which was by running to his left, ending the doubles alley wide, somehow to surpass the cross-court forehand passing winner at an incredible angle. The crowd stood up and shouted slogans at him. Reaching Zaverev’s sharp volley was probably not his business, let alone this low response.
And yet, Nadal does so often, to many opponents. He hangs there, he never makes a point off, he plays every shot in such a way that it could be his last.
He has been like this since adolescence. Why stop now that he’s in his mid-30s?
The only older men’s finalist in Paris was Bill Tilden, who was runner-up in 1930 at the age of 37. The oldest champion so far was Andres Gimeno, who turned 34 in 1972.
Nadal, who won his first championship at the Roland Garros since his debut at the age of 19, has said in recent days that he cannot be sure if every match at the French Open will end for him. His left leg is the primary cause of that frustration.
“Accepting all the sacrifices and going through all the things that I have to go through to continue the game,” said Nadal.
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