Rafael Nadal reached his 14th final of the French Open on Friday when Alexander Zverev was forced to leave his last four matches after suffering a right ankle injury in a dramatic day at Roland Garros. On Sunday, Nadal will play his 30th Grand Slam final against Casper Ruud, the first Norwegian to play in a major league championship.
Nadal was 7-6 (10/8), 6-6 ahead when Zverev was forced to resign, while Ruud defeated Marin Cilic 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in the its semifinal that was held. when an environmental protester ran to the track and tied herself to the net.
Zverev sprained his ankle as he chased the ball in front of the players’ pits on the Philippe Chatrier court, where his team and family were sitting.
As his piercing cries of pain echoed around the 15,000-seat track, a weeping Zverev was pulled off the track in a wheelchair while Nadal stared worriedly.
Minutes later, the 25-year-old returned with crutches and gave up the game, with Nadal embracing his heartbroken opponent.
“If you’re human, you feel sorry for a colleague,” said Nadal, a 13-time French Open champion.
“He is very tough and very sad for him. He was playing an amazing tournament and he is a very good tour partner.
“I know how he’s struggling to win a Grand Slam. So far, he’s had a lot of bad luck. I’m sure he won’t win one, but a lot more than one. I wish him the best.”
He added: “For me, being in the Roland Garros final is a dream, no doubt, but at the same time, it ends like this … I’ve been there in the small room with Sascha and watching him cry like that. .. “
Zverev later said he had “suffered a very serious injury”.
“It was a very difficult time on the court. It looks like a very serious injury but the medical team is still checking it and I will keep you informed,” he said.
“But congratulations to Rafa, it is an incredible success to be in the final for the 14th time.
“I hope it goes all the way and makes more history.”
Until the dramatic end of the match, Zverev had been pushing Christmas to the end.
On a roller coaster, the first set of 91 minutes, Zverev broke in the first game before Nadal tied 4-4.
The Spaniard, dripping with sweat under the closed roof, saw three points of seven come and go in the 10th game, as the German’s all-or-nothing blow kept him in the game.
Nadal, who celebrated his 36th birthday on Friday, saved four points from seven in a knife-tipped tie, one of them with a spectacular cross-country live.
A pass from the right gave him the first goal with a sixth of seven points.
Zverev, playing in the semifinals at Roland Garros for the second year in a row, scored 25 winners and 26 unforced errors.
The second set was marked by eight service breaks. When Nadal broke 2-1, he did so after a grueling 44-shot rally.
Nadal becomes the second oldest man to reach the Paris final after 37-year-old Bill Tilden, who was runner-up in 1930.
With the victory, Nadal, who defeated world number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals, set his record at the French Open with 111 wins and only three defeats.
If he wins on Sunday, he will be the oldest champion of the tournament, beating compatriot Andrés Gimeno, 34, who won the title in 1972.
Nadal has reached the final despite his doubts about his long-term future in the sport.
A chronic injury to his left foot has forced him to admit that any match can be the last of his record career at the French Open.
It took more than four hours to defeat Felix Auger-Aliassime in five sets in the round of 16 and then it took another four hours to defeat Djokovic in four sets.
Ruud became the first Norwegian to reach a Slam final and hailed Nadal as his “idol”.
World number eight Ruud shot 16 aces and 41 winners after the 2014 U.S. Open champion Cilic.
However, there was a worrying safety breach in the third set when a protester ran to the track and tied her neck around the net.
She was wearing a T-shirt with the slogan: “We have 1028 days left” before it was finally cut by security personnel. The match resumed after a 15-minute delay.
“It was a great game for me, I didn’t start the best, but Marin made a really good first set,” said 23-year-old Ruud.
“I admire Rafa. He’s the perfect example of how to behave on the court. He never gives up and never complains. He’s been my idol all my life.”
Ruud described the protest as a “complicated and difficult situation”.
“I just saw her from behind, I didn’t know if she was holding anything or what she had on her neck.”
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated channel.)
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