In a hotly contested match, Alexander Zverev and Rafael Nadal are fighting for the final at the French Open. Then a twisting of the ankle ends the game abruptly and finally destroys all of Zverev's title ambitions. Later in the evening, the injured Olympic tennis champion gives an update via video.
Alexander Zverev returned to the Philippe Chatrier court on crutches. Accompanied by Rafael Nadal, Zverev limped towards the referee's chair and announced what everyone already suspected: due to a foot injury, the Olympic tennis champion had to miss his semifinals at the French Open against the 13-time Paris champion with a score of 6: 7 (8: 10 ), 6:6 from his point of view after more than three hours of play. What a drama, what a bitter end to an unbelievable game at the Stade Roland Garros.
Zverev cried out loud after twisting his ankle and lay on the ground. Ultimately, the 25-year-old had to be pushed off the pitch in a wheelchair. A little later, Zverev came back on crutches, accompanied by Nadal, took off his shoe and socks on his right foot - and gave up with a hug from Nadal. Then he waved his crutches again at the crowd, who cheered him loudly, and disappeared into the catacombs with his head bowed. Around seven hours after the drama on Center Court, Zverev spoke up on Saturday night in a video message distributed by the organizers. "It looks like I have a very serious injury," he said, visibly upset. "But the medical team and the doctors are still checking it out. We'll let you know when we know more," said Zverev. "It was a very difficult moment for me on the pitch," said the German number one. "It was a fantastic match until what happened happened." According to his brother Mischa, Zverev will fly home this Saturday. Then there should be an accurate diagnosis.
"It's so undeserved. Anything can happen, but something like that is just undeserved," said Zverev's brother Mischa, shocked as a TV expert at Eurosport. "If you're injured like Sascha (his nickname) is now, a piece of your life will be taken away from you for a certain time because you can't run, you can't go to the tennis court."
The veteran Nadal, who turned 36 on Friday, now has the chance on Sunday to win his 14th title at the French Open and to extend his record of 21 triumphs so far in Grand Slam tournaments. "I wish him all the best and hope that he will come to the end," said Zverev. In the final, Nadal will face Norway's Casper Ruud, who defeated Croatia's Marin Cilic 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in the second semi-final. For Ruud it is the first Grand Slam final of his career. But Nadal wasn't really happy about his return to the final. "It's very hard for him. I'm very sorry. He played incredible tennis," said Nadal about Zverev in an interview on the court. "I know how hard he's fighting to win a Grand Slam tournament. I'm sure he'll win not just one, but several," said the Spaniard. "To be back in the Paris final is a dream. But at the moment it's hard to find words when I just saw him crying in the dressing room." Nadal was initially unable to say anything about an exact diagnosis. "I hope the injury isn't that bad. I hope nothing's broken."
Zverev had previously offered Nadal a mega fight and kept putting the clay court king in Paris under serious pressure. However, he was unable to take many chances. There was an electrifying atmosphere at the Stade Roland Garros right from the start. As soon as he entered the Philippe Chatrier court, Nadal received an ovation. The spectators rose from their seats and applauded - as if they could admire the exceptional Spanish talent live for the last time. In honor of his birthday, the audience even serenaded. Because of the rain in the French capital, the roof over the largest stadium in the complex was closed. There was a party atmosphere when Nadal opened the game at 3:05 p.m. But Zverev wasn't impressed by any of this at first. He played aggressively from the start and surprised Nadal with numerous unattainable shots.
For seven games, Zverev then played what was probably the best tennis he had ever played in a Grand Slam tournament. But then suddenly there was a break in his game. Nadal, who has been playing with chronic foot problems for weeks, remained far from his top form, but Zverev suddenly made many slight mistakes. So he let Nadal back into the game, and the Spaniard made the break to make it 4: 4 to equalize.
After that, the game went back and forth. When the score was 4: 5, Zverev fended off three set balls from Nadal and then did not use two break balls in his subsequent service game. In the tie-break, Zverev suddenly had four set balls. He missed one with a slight volley error, Nadal fended off the rest in a manner known from him on the Center Court in Paris - simply world class. But Zverev resisted, fended off two more set balls from Nadal, only to lose the first round after 1:31 hours - because Nadal used his sixth set ball with an incredible passing ball.
The back and forth continued in the second set. Zverev immediately lost his serve but fought back and continued to make life incredibly difficult for Nadal. When the score was 5:3, he served to win the set, but made three double faults. The decision seemed to be made again in the tie-break, but then the drama happened - and Zverev gave up.