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Rafael Nadal bidding to avoid early French Open exit against Alexander Zverev



Rafael Nadal bidding to avoid early French Open exit against Alexander Zverev

Rafael Nadal, a 14-time French Open champion, is set to face a significant challenge in the first round of this year’s tournament against world number four Alexander Zverev. Despite his illustrious record at Roland Garros, Nadal’s current form and fitness have raised concerns, as he has only participated in four tournaments since January 2023 due to a hip injury followed by a muscle tear.

Nadal, now 37, acknowledged the difficulty of his draw, stating, “I play against one of the toughest opponents possible.” Zverev, 27, recently won the Rome Open and arrives in Paris as one of the favorites for the title. The German player is known for his strength on clay and has been in impressive form, making this a particularly tough opening match for Nadal.

The two players have a history, with Nadal holding a 7-3 record over Zverev. Their last encounter was in the 2022 French Open semi-finals, where Zverev had to retire after suffering a severe ankle injury. Reflecting on the upcoming match, Nadal expressed a mix of cautious optimism and realism, noting the possibility of repeating his disappointing performance in Rome but aiming to play at a higher level to be competitive.

Zverev, who has regained his form after his injury, is also aware of the challenge ahead. He expressed a mixture of respect and anticipation for facing Nadal in the first round, acknowledging the Spaniard’s formidable presence on clay despite his recent struggles.

The French Open draw appears more open this year, with questions surrounding Nadal’s fitness and Novak Djokovic’s inconsistent start to the year. Zverev himself commented on the draw’s difficulty, emphasizing that no top player would have wanted to face Nadal in the first round.

Meanwhile, the tournament organizers had considered a tribute ceremony for Nadal, given the speculation about his potential retirement. However, Nadal preferred not to endorse such a celebration, keeping his focus on the competition at hand.

In addition to the Nadal-Zverev clash, the opening day of the tournament will see women’s world number one Iga Swiatek begin her title defense against Leolia Jeanjean. Other notable matches include Jannik Sinner, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Coco Gauff starting their campaigns on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Source: ghmediahub

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