Rafael Nadal is into the French Open final after Alexander Zverev suffered a freak accident in their semifinal match. At 5-6 40-30, Zverev was stretched out wide to his forehand side by a forehand from Nadal down the line. As Zverev attempted to slide on the clay, he went over his right ankle in what looked like a very painful fall. The German was on the ground screaming and clutching his leg before officials came on to escort him off the court in a wheelchair.
Ten minutes later, Zverev re-emerged on-court supporting himself with crutches. He shook hands with the umpire, embraced Nadal and was greeted with applause as he waved to the crowd.
With the roof closed, the conditions were significantly slower than is usual for Roland Garros. As they went into the second-set tiebreak, the match had already lasted three hours. The players had traded four breaks of serve apiece throughout the second set, there was a 44-shot exchange on a break point in the second, Nadal had recovered from 6-2 down in the first-set tiebreak – it was a very physical, defensive match with both players fighting for every single ball.
With question marks over his foot injury and with Zverev defending well in the slow conditions, Nadal’s place in the final may not have been guaranteed if the match had continued with the Spaniard seemingly struggling with fatigue after a long quarterfinal against Novak Djokovic.
In his on-court interview with Mats Wilander, Nadal was very sympathetic.
“Very tough, no, very sad for him honestly. He was playing an unbelievable tournament. He is a very good colleague on the tour. I know how much he’s fighting to win a Grand Slam but for the moment he was very unlucky. The only thing that I am sure is that he is gonna win not one but more than one so I wish him a very fast recovery… To see him crying there is a very tough moment.”
Nadal will play the winner of Casper Ruud and Marin Cilic in the final.
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