Nadal reaches French Open final after Zverev forced to retire with injury | French Open 2022

Rafael Nadal has reached the final of the French Open after opponent Alexander Zverev was forced to retire injured.

In distressing scenes, with the score 7-6, 6-6 in Nadal’s favour, the German third seed fell and injured himself, crying in pain as a concerned Nadal rushed around the net to offer his sympathy.

Zverev was helped to his feet by medical staff, but taken off the court in a wheelchair for treatment. He re-emerged on crutches to inform the umpire that he could not continue. The crowd on Court Philippe-Chatrier – fiercely pro-Nadal as usual – rose to salute the world No 3 as his latest bid for a grand slam title came to a devastating end.

“It’s very tough, very sad for him,” said Nadal. “He was playing an unbelievable tournament, and I know he was fighting to win a grand slam. I’m sure he will win more than one and I wish him all the best.”

On his 36th birthday Nadal, broken in the very first game, was chasing for most of the opening set, standing as far back in the court as possible as he defended Zverev’s thunderous 130mph serve.

Having clawed the break back, he found himself facing four set points at 6-2 down in the tie-break but somehow hit back, including one improbable backhand get followed by an outrageous forehand winner, to snatch it 10-8 after 92 gruelling minutes.

The last thing either player needed was a 44-shot rally but that is what they got early in the second set among four breaks of serve in the opening games. The double-faults which cost Zverev at crucial times in the first set returned to gift Nadal two more breaks, the second when he was serving for the set, moments after he had been given a warning by the umpire for swearing in Russian.

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When the Spaniard levelled again at 5-5 it was the first time he had held serve for 93 minutes. But then, with Nadal about to take the match into a second tie-beak, Zverev’s footing gave way and the match was over. Nadal had made it through, not in the way he would have liked of course, but he remains on track for Roland Garros title No 14 and a 22nd grand slam win.

Assam Press