Rafael Nadal reached the 14th French Open final on Friday when Alexander Zverev was forced to retire from the round of four after injuring his right ankle on a day of drama at Roland Garros. On Sunday, Nadal will play in the 30th Grand Slam final when he faces Casper Ruud, the first Norwegian player to play in a major tournament match.
Nadal was leading 7-6 (10/8), 6-6 when Zverev was forced to resign while Rudd beat Marin Cilic 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in the semi-final which was held. When an environmental protester ran to court and handcuffed herself to the net.
Zverev rotated his ankle chasing the ball in front of the players’ boxes at Court Philippe Chatrier as his team and family sat in shock.
As piercing cries of pain reverberated around the 15,000-seat stadium, Zverev was taken out sobbing in a wheelchair while Nadal groaned.
Minutes later, the 25-year-old returned on crutches and agreed to the match, with Nadal cuddling his grieving opponent.
“If you’re human, you feel sorry for a colleague,” said Nadal, the 13-times French Open champion.
“It is very difficult and very sad for him. He was playing an incredible tournament and he is a very good teammate on the tour.
“I know how much he is fighting to win one of the Grand Slams. At the moment, he has not been very lucky. I am sure he will win not one, but more than one. I wish him all the best.”
He added: “For me, being in the final of Roland Garros is undoubtedly a dream, but at the same time, for it to end this way … I was there in a small room with Sasha and to see him cry like this … “
Zverev later said he had been “extremely seriously injured”.
“It was a very difficult moment on the court,” he said. “It looks like a very serious injury but the medical team is still examining it and I will keep you informed.”
“But congratulations to Rafa, it is a great achievement to be in the final for the 14th time.
“I hope he goes all the way and makes more history.”
Until the dramatic end of the match, Zverev was pushing Nadal to the limit.
In a roller coaster, 91 minutes long in the first set, Zverev broke in the opener before Nadal tied 4-4.
The Spaniard, sweating under a closed roof, saw three set points come and go in the 10th inning, as the German kept all or nothing in the match.
Nadal celebrated his 36th birthday on Friday, then saved four set points in a tiebreak with a knife edge, one of which was from a stunning forehand on the occasional court.
A powerful forehand pass gave him the opening goal on the sixth set point.
Zverev, who played in the semi-finals at Roland Garros for the second year in a row, scored 25 wins and scored 26 unforced errors.
The second set had eight breaks to serve. When Nadal broke 2-1, he did so on the back of 44 exhausting shots.
Nadal became the second-oldest man to reach the final in Paris after 37-year-old Bill Tilden, who was runner-up in 1930.
Nadal, who knocked out world number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, brought his French Open record to 111 wins and just three defeats.
If he wins on Sunday, he will be the tournament’s oldest champion, surpassing 34-year-old compatriot Andres Jimeno, who won the title in 1972.
Nadal reached the final despite his doubts about his long-term future in the sport.
A chronic injury to his left foot forced him to admit that any match could be the last of his career at the French Open of Records.
He needed over four hours to beat Felix Auger-Aliassime in five sets in the round of 16 and then needed another four hours to defeat Djokovic in four sets.
Rudd became the first Norwegian man to reach a Slam final and praised Nadal as his “idol”.
Rudd, ranked eighth in the world, had 16 aces and 41 winners after Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion.
However, there was a troubling security breach in the third group when a protester ran to court and tied her neck with the net.
She was wearing a T-shirt bearing the slogan: “We have 1,028 days left” before security personnel finally released her. The match resumed after a 15-minute delay.
“It was a great match on my part, I didn’t start the best but Marin played a very good first set,” said the 23-year-old.
“I am looking forward to Rafa. He is the perfect example of how to act on the court, never giving up and never complaining. He has been my role model all my life.”
Rudd described the protest as a “difficult and difficult situation.”
“I’ve only seen her back, and I didn’t know if she was holding anything or what was around her neck.”
(This story has not been edited by the NDTV crew and is automatically generated from a shared feed.)
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