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Shocking Friday in Paris : Dramatic 3-hour battle and Zverev’s stunning fall send Nadal into another final

Zverev turned his right ankle on the last point of the 12th game and could not carry on

Alexander Zverev Alexander Zverev on crutches (Aurelien Morissard/Panoramic)

Rafael Nadal won through to his 14th Roland-Garros final after Alexander Zverev was forced to retire late in the second set due to a nasty injury to his right ankle.

Nadal was leading 7-6 and won a point to force a second-set tiebreak as Zverev missed a forehand but fell and yelled in agony, clutching his right ankle.

The German then was taken off court in a wheelchair and after a few minutes, the umpire announced that he would not be able to continue.

Nadal : “Difficult to say something in this situation”

“Very tough and very sad for him, honestly, he was playing unbelievable tournament,” Nadal said. “I know how much he’s fighting to win a Grand Slam but for the moment he was very unlucky. The only thing is I’m sure he’s going to win not one, much more than one and I wish him all the best and a very fast recovery.

“Had been a super tough match, three hours, and we didn’t even finish the second set. It’s one of the biggest challenges on the Tour when he’s playing at this super high level.

“Difficult to say a lot of things today in this situation. Of course, for me, being in the final of Roland-Garros one more time is a dream, without a doubt.

“But at the same time, to finish that way, I’ve been there in a small room with Sascha before we came back on court and to see him crying there is a very tough moment so all the best to him.”

Nadal, who had battled for top form throughout the match, which had already gone through the three-hour mark, will now play the winner of the second semi-final between eighth seed Casper Ruud and former US Open champion Marin Cilic.

Rafael Nadal
Spain’s Rafael Nadal reacts during his semi-final match against Germany’s Alexander Zverev (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

Zverev doesn’t take his chances in epic first set

On his 36th birthday, with rain falling in Paris as the start time approached, the roof was closed over Court Philippe Chatrier, which created heavy conditions. Nadal, in particular, was sweating buckets, metaphorically and physically, especially when Zverev broke serve in the opening game of the match.

The German was serving brilliantly – at one stage he was making 90 percent of his first serves – and any time he got a short ball, he pounced on it. He maintained the advantage to 4-3 only to get nervous for the first time and allow Nadal to break back for 4-4.

Alexander Zverev
Alexander Zverev (Aurelien Morissard/Panoramic)

At 5-4, Nadal, who was starting to use the drop shot to good effect – he hit 19 in the first set alone – had three chances to close out the set but Zverev saved them and then, in the tiebreak, he stormed ahead 6-2 as the Spaniard looked up to his box with a forlorn look on his face.

But from then on, Nadal played incredible tennis. Zverev missed a volley by millimetres and was then passed by Nadal, who repeated the feat on his sixth set point, finding the space up the line with a forehand pass on the run.

The second set was a topsy-turvy affair as Nadal broke to lead 1-0 and 2-1 but then found himself 4-2 down as he struggled to hold serve.

The German served for the set at 5-4 but could not do it, not helped by three double faults, and then suffered a horrible injury when playing the last point of the 12th game.

He left the court in a wheelchair but could not continue and though he came back onto court, the match was over.

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