After three hours of battle between Rafael Nadal (Russia) and Alexander Zverev, the German fell, injured his ankle, and was forced to leave Paris in a wheelchair. It was a sad end to one of the most exciting matches of the tournament. Nadal won by a narrow margin. Zverev was in tears when he was helped by medical personnel to leave the court. Nadal was ahead 7-6 (8) and 6-6, but it was not an epic end, just a sad fall.
The Spaniard now has his 14th Paris final, all of which he has won, and will be facing Casper Ruud. He beat Marin Cilic by 3-6,6-4, 6-2 in one semifinal and 6-2 in the other.
Zverev, on crutches and after ten minutes' medical assistance, arrived to say goodbye to Nadal and to greet the chair umpire. The meeting had been a success up to that point, when Zverev, on crutches, appeared at the final "tie break". After three hours of battle, not one set had been completed. It was like a rollercoaster ride with endless options and very little efficiency in serve.
The German won the first set, breaking Nadal’s first serve. The Spaniard was dealt a blow by the German, who managed to tie the match at 5-4. They now have three set points. All were deactivated due to the German's serve, backhand, and sharper than ever. Zverev, who was used to playing in these situations with the "Big Three", was at a very high ranking. He wanted to surprise Nadal, who had already beaten him on clay four times. The tiebreaker was a wake up call. He was up 6-2, and barely won the first set.
He was a total disaster. He missed four set points, including one that was unlikely to be in the net. It was unbelievable to him and Nadal was crouching in the trench with his rifle ready for Zverev's lower guard. The German won two more set points until Nadal, who was still in the trench, reached the sixth, which was the most difficult. Zverev made an impossible serve, he was at a dead stop in the middle track, and Zverev used his axe to hammer the line. Nadal, who was glued to the wall and connected a "passing shot" to the line, attached a "passing shot". Set.
The match was a decisive win for the Spanish. The verdict was not in. Alternatives to the service were erratic in their selections. Below 50% of Zverev's first serve, Nadal was unable to reach 70%, and he had double flag faults. The Spaniard lost his serve 4 times, the first time in history that this happened in a set. Zverev added four more. The set was tied by the Hamburg serve, especially the last. This was the moment the game script was broken.
After three hours of exchanges with more than 40 strokes between them, Nadal put a right hand in front of Zverev's court. The German fell to the ground. He injured his ankle. He was covered in dirt and unable to stand. Nadal and the tournament physicians saw him sobbing. His body language indicated that he could not go on. The worst fears were confirmed when the wheelchair entered the track. Zverev was trapped between the wheelchair and the assist. He couldn't get his foot out of the chair. Zverev leaned on one of the doctors to sign his farewell and sighed. Although not officially, he did go through the changing rooms for the first time.
Zverev, who was on crutches and had spent about ten minutes in the Philippe Chatrier's back room, returned to the track. He hugged Nadal, and shook hands again with the chair umpire. The ankle couldn’t take it any longer. Nadal withdrew from the final at Roland Garros. The previous thirteen were won by his side. The title match in Paris will see Nadal face a new opponent: Norwegian Casper Ruud. He has never met him.
Rafa Nadal never had such bitter memories of qualifying for the Roland Garros final. Due to Alexander Zverev's injury, the Spaniard reached his 14th final on clay in Paris in terrible shape.
Nadal's serious expression when his rival retired to the locker rooms said it all. He consoled the 13-time Paris champion, before returning to the track. "I'm very sad. He has had an amazing tournament. I know how hard he fights to win a Grand Slam. "I was in the room with Sascha. It was difficult.