Alexander Zverev reveals why Rafael Nadal has been invincible at the French Open

Alexander Zverev reveals why Rafael Nadal has been invincible at the French Open

Rafael Nadal could be set to play his last French Open later this month, with the ‘King of Clay’ eyeing up an unlikely title at a 15th title at Roland Garros.

With retirement imminent and his injury issues restricting his ambitions, Grand Slam glory to end his career may be out of reach for the 22-time major winner, yet one of the few players who came close to beating Nadal on the red dirt in Pafris has revealed why he is so tough to beat.

Alexander Zverev was pushing Nadal all the way until he seriously twisted his ankle in a high-octane 2022 French Open semi-final and as the German star looks back on that match now, he does so with pride and pain in his voice.

As he reflects on why Nadal is so hard to beat in Paris, he suggests the vast space

“I have mixed feelings and mixed emotions obviously about that match, about playing him there just simply because it was one of the best tennis matches I’ve ever played in my career, but it was the worst ending I’ve ever had to a tennis match in my career,” said Zverev.

“Yeah, I mean, he becomes different. His ball becomes all of a sudden a few kilometers an hour faster.

“All of a sudden his footwork and foot speed becomes a lot faster.

“It’s more difficult to hit a winner, especially on Philippe Chatrier, which is a massive court, so he has a lot more space. It is very difficult. It’s probably the biggest challenge in tennis. It’s the biggest challenge that you can have in our sport, playing Nadal on that court.

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“You have a feeling that you just can’t put him away. I think the first set that I played against him basically describes it to perfection.

“I mean, I won that set I don’t know how many times against any other player, and I still somehow manage lose it in the tiebreak.

“I was up 6-2 in the tiebreak. He aced me I think for the first time in the entire match. Then he hit one of the most ridiculous passing shots I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

“Then at 6-5, there was also a very un-unique point that he’s won and I was in control.

“Somehow you feel like you’re winning, but then somehow you end up not. It’s just something that you only feel against him on that specific court.”

Zverev went on to suggest he is hoping to have one last chance to play Nadal at this year’s Roland Garros tournament, as he hopes to create memories to savour against the Spaniard rather than the pain he remembers from two years ago.

“I would love to do it one more time just simply to kind of have a different ending to those memories, right? That’s just something in my mind.

“I would love to play him one more time. I would love to play him in a final or semifinal, in a big match again. I think that would be great for both of us. We’ll see how it will be for him.”

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