French Open: Nadal aims to attend Madrid's Champions League final despite Roland Garros schedule

By Sports Desk May 27, 2022

Rafael Nadal intends to attend the Champions League final between his beloved Real Madrid and Liverpool, despite the ongoing French Open.

Paris' Stade de France plays host to the Champions League showpiece on Saturday, with Madrid aiming for a 14th European Cup as Liverpool look to add to their EFL Cup and FA Cup successes this season.

Meanwhile, across the city in the French capital, Nadal remains in contention at Roland Garros after defeating Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3 6-2 6-4 on Friday.

Madrid great Zinedine Zidane was in attendance as the Spaniard cruised to victory, with the 35-year-old setting up a last-16 clash with Felix Auger-Aliassime.

While Nadal did not get to converse with Zidane, he was aware of the Frenchman's presence as the record 21-time grand slam winner outlined his plans to make the short trip to support Carlo Ancelotti's Madrid.

"I didn't see him, but I knew it was him, I knew he was there because I was listening to the crowd shouting his name all the time," Nadal told reporters when asked about Zidane. 

"So I imagine he was there, but I didn't have the chance to see him after my match or talk with him at all.

"Tomorrow, let's see how I wake up, because, you never know with my body how the surprises are there.

"But if nothing happens, and I expect nothing happens, and if I'm able to have the right practice tomorrow, my intention and my goal is to be there [at the Stade de France]."

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    Former Liverpool midfielder Boudewijn Zenden admits there will be a change for the Reds under Arne Slot but says the club should be ready to buy into his philosophy.

    Liverpool confirmed on Monday that Slot would take over from Jurgen Klopp, who managed his final game at Anfield against Wolves on Sunday.

    The Dutchman had already announced that he would be taking the job in a press conference, with Klopp then leading a chant of Slot’s name in his farewell speech.

    Slot has reportedly signed a three-year deal and will officially take charge from June 1.

    Asked if the former Feyenoord manager can avoid a painful transition when he begins his new job, Zenden said Liverpool need to be prepared for any outcome.

    "Well, let's put it this way. Someone said life is like a box of chocolates, you know, you never know what you're going to get until it's there, and it's the same with Slot," he told Stats Perform.

    "You know, there's going to be a change. You never know what the change will be like. As I said, there will be a change, that's for sure.

    "For example, if you look at Arsenal, what I admire about the Arsenal people in charge is that the beginning of Arteta at Arsenal. I'm sure you remember well, it was painful for the fans, for the people that had the love for the Gunners.

    "They stuck to Arteta, they stuck to his vision, his way of playing, and gradually the team that he built, with his philosophy and the players that he took in, that go with that philosophy.

    "For me, it's a huge pleasure to see that if you stick to someone, if you stick to the manager, and you're convinced of his ideas, that you see where this will get you.

    "There will be a change. Am I afraid? Well, of course, I'm not afraid, concerned, no, I think you have to just live with it.

    "I'm sure in Liverpool, they'll keep their head up high when they go through that storm if it's there. But no, it's going to be a change, of course, but when Slot takes over, I hope that it'll go down well."

    Slot led Feyenoord to the Eredivisie title in 2023 and was named Eredivisie Manager of the Year on two occasions, while also winning the KNVB Beker this season.

    While some have questioned if Slot will be able to deal with the big stars at the club, Zenden does not believe that will be a problem.

    "Yeah, but listen, it is what it is. Of course, Feyenoord this is nowhere near the magnitude of Liverpool. Feyenoord is a big club, but Liverpool is a massive club. So, there's certainly the expectations that come with the club," he added.

    "Also, when you are in a big club, there are big players with big egos and I think what could help Slot as well is that he used to play himself.

    "He knows what's happening in the mind of a player, he knows what happens in the dressing room. So, he knows a little bit about how these things can be done can work out how it works out, but it definitely will be interesting to see how he deals with these different situations.

    "I think Jurgen Klopp over the years also had a few, I'm not going say run-ins, but of course, there's been issues, but they've all been solved and taken care of, one or the other."

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    He had earlier fumed at umpire Greg Allensworth as pollen rained down on the court in Switzerland, questioning why play had not been stopped.

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    The 34-year-old was thought likely to sign a new contract with Los Blancos, but he announced on Tuesday that he will hang up his boots after representing his country on home soil at the Euros. 

    Kroos has enjoyed a distinguished 10-year spell with Madrid, who he joined from Bayern Munich in 2014, winning LaLiga and the Champions League four times apiece with the Spanish giants.

    He played a crucial role as Carlo Ancelotti's men regained their domestic title in 2023-24, but next week's Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund will be the final game of his club career before his Euros swansong. 

    He initially quit international football after the delayed Euro 2020 three years ago, only to agree to return to the fold under Julian Nagelsmann earlier this year.

    In an open letter to Madrid's fans, Kroos wrote: "As I have always said, Real Madrid is and will be my last club.

    "After 10 years, at the end of the season this chapter comes to an end. I will never forget this successful time! I would like to thank everyone that welcomed me with an open heart and trusted me. 

    "But especially I would like to thank you, dear Madridistas, for your affection and your love from the first day until the last one. 

    "At the same time this decision means that my career as an active footballer will end this summer after the Euro championship."

    Kroos also issued a rallying cry as Madrid target a record-extending 15th European crown, adding: "I am happy and proud that in my mind I found the right timing for my decision and that I could choose it myself. 

    "My ambition was always to finish my career at the peak of my performance levels. From now on there is only one leading thought, la 15! Hala Madrid!"

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