Tennis-Nadal has tough opener with Zverev in what could be his last French Open

  • Tennis
  • Monday, 27 May 2024

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 25, 2024 Spain's Rafael Nadal acknowledges fans during a practice session REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

(Reuters) - In what could be his last French Open, 14-times champion Rafa Nadal faces a tough task to avoid it all ending in a first-round exit when he plays Alexander Zverev on Monday.

Nadal had already announced that this could be the final season of his career but on his arrival in Paris the Spaniard said he could not yet be sure that he was ready to close the door on Roland Garros.

After missing last year's tournament through injury, Nadal will be keen to make the most of his return, as will his fans, but standing in his way is fourth-seeded German Zverev, fresh from his triumph at the Italian Open.

"It's not ideal the first match, because I feel competitive to have this match later in the tournament, but it's how it is," Nadal said.

"I need to be ready since the beginning. Let's see."

The meeting will bring back contrasting memories for both players of the last time they met, in a French Open semi-final in 2022, when Nadal went on to win yet another title in Paris, the last of his 22 Grand Slam victories.

Zverev was forced to retire from that match with an ankle injury. He underwent surgery and ended up missing the rest of the season with another injury, but he returned last year to reach his third consecutive French Open semi-final.

With some of the other top players such as Novak Djokovic, Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz, struggling with injuries of late, this could be Zverev's chance to finally win a Grand Slam.

The German might not have wanted to meet Nadal so early in the tournament but he was happy to have the chance to take him on again.

"I really wanted to play him here. I did not want to play him in the first round. I wanted to play him in the semi-finals, finals, a later stage of the tournament," Zverev said.

"But at the end of the day, he's not seeded, it is how it is, and I think we're both prepared for a tough battle."

World number two Sinner makes his return to action after sitting out the Italian Open following a hip injury at the Madrid Open, and takes on American Christopher Eubanks.

Iga Swiatek begins her title defence against French qualifier Leolia Jeanjean, and the Polish world number one comes to Paris on the back of title wins in Madrid and Rome.

American third seed Coco Gauff plays 21-year-old qualifier Julia Avdeeva, with the Russian making her Grand Slam debut.

(Reporting by Trevor Stynes; editing by Clare Fallon)

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!

Next In Tennis

ATP roundup: Jack Draper hits 31 aces to advance in Stuttgart
Tennis-Japan's Osaka, Nishikori confirmed for Paris Games
Tennis-'Life's great' Federer says as he launches retirement documentary
Tennis-Spain's Nadal to skip Wimbledon to prepare for Olympics
Tennis-Wimbledon serves up record prize pot, plans to honour Murray
ATP roundup: Frances Tiafoe reaches quarters in Stuttgart
Tennis-Nadal, Alcaraz to play Olympic doubles, Badosa to skip Games
Olympics-Britain's Murray casts doubt over Games participation
ATP roundup: Lorenzo Musetti advances at Stuttgart
Olympics-Roland Garros in race to finish Paris 2024 makeover

Others Also Read