Nadal loses on possible French Open farewell

Nadal loses on possible French Open farewell By A Robin - May 28, 2024
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal's return to the French Open - and possible farewell - ended at the first hurdle as the 14-time winner lost to Alexander Zverev.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion was beaten 6-3 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 by the in-form German fourth seed.

Nadal has become synonymous with Roland Garros but, in front of a partisan crowd, he could not replicate the level which has made him almost unbeatable on the Paris clay.

The 37-year-old indicated when he missed last year's French Open that the 2024 season could be his final one on tour.

He has also said he does not know if this will be his final time at the clay-court major - but it remains a "big chance" it will be.

Nadal arrived on Court Philippe Chatrier - the scene of many of the finest moments of his career - to a thunderous reception from a packed stadium.

While nowhere near his scintillating best, the former world number one showed flashes of the brilliance that has made him so loved, but not enough to stringently test Zverev.

It was only Nadal's fourth defeat in 116 singles matches at Roland Garros and Zverev became the third man - after Robin Soderling in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in 2015 and 2021 - to beat him there.

"I don't know if it'll be the last time I'm going to be here in front of you. If it is I have enjoyed it," Nadal said in an on-court speech.

"The crowd have been amazing the whole week. For me it's so special to feel the love of the people the way I have felt."

With some fans crying in the stands, Nadal departed to another standing ovation as the crowd showed their appreciation for the tournament's finest champion.

Jonathan Jurejko


By A Robin - May 28, 2024

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