Alexander Zverev Solves Long-Standing Rafael Nadal French Open Question in Honest Confession

Alexander Zverev Solves Long-Standing Rafael Nadal French Open Question in Honest Confession

After getting knocked out in the Australian Open 2024 semifinals, Novak Djokovic claimed in an interview that Rafael Nadal is still the biggest threat to any player in the French Open. That notion stands true according to many other players, including Alexander Zverev.

Zverev will soon start his Italian Open 2024 campaign, ahead of which, he spoke to the press about his future preparations and a potential clash against Rafael Nadal in the tournament.

Alexander Zverev believes that Rafael Nadal is still the man to beat at the French Open. While the Italian Open, an ATP Masters tournament, is an important one, the French Open matters the most in the clay swing.

Zverev answered what has arguably been the biggest question in tennis since years – ‘Why is it so hard to defeat Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros?’ The German believes that when it comes to clay, Nadal becomes a completely different player. The German No.1 elaborated on the same from his own experience of playing against the Spaniard and seeing him play there for the longest time –

“You feel like you just can’t put him away. You feel like you’re winning, but somehow you end up not.”

“He becomes different. His ball becomes different, his ball, all of a sudden, a few kilometres an hour faster. All of a sudden his footwork and his footspeed becomes a lot faster.

“It’s more difficult to hit a winner, especially on Philippe Chatrier, which is a massive court. He has a lot more space,” Zverev added.

Zverev praised Nadal by claiming that to overcome the 14-time French Open champion on the Parisian clay is the biggest achievement in the sport.

“It is very difficult. It’s probably the biggest challenge in tennis and the biggest challenge you can have in our sport to play Nadal on that court. I would love to do it one more time,” Zverev concluded.

While the chances of Nadal and Zverev playing at the French Open this year look difficult, here is what happened when they did play against each other at the Grand Slam in the 2022 semifinals.

Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev met at French Open 2022

Rafael Nadal surprised many by winning the French Open 2022 despite coming into the tournament injured and not doing well in the clay swing before that. He took on Alexander Zverev in the semifinals, who was touted by many as the man who could have achieved the rare feat of defeating the King of Clay in his den.

The German was the Tokyo Olympics 2020 gold medalist and the World No.3 at the time. The first set between Nadal and Zverev itself was a thriller, with the former eventually winning the tiebreaker 7-6 (10-8). Both the players played some fabulous tennis.

But by that point, Zverev was already showing some signs of struggle. He fought hard to take the game deep, resulting in another tiebreaker.

When the scoreline reached 6-6 in the tiebreaker, Zverev severely injured his right ankle by taking a huge fall on the court. A massive upset was on the cards but was averted as the German handed the Spaniard a walkover.

In their head-to-head battle, Rafael Nadal leads Alexander Zverev 7-3. Interestingly, of the 3 times Zverev won, he once beat Nadal on clay. It was at the Madrid Open 2021, whereas the other 2 times were at the 2020 Paris Masters and the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals.

At the Italian Open 2024, Zverev and Nadal are not in the same half of the draw. It means that the only way they could face each other is if they both qualify for the finals.

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