Nadal suggests French Open farewell after Zverev forces first-round disappointment

By Sports Desk May 27, 2024

Rafael Nadal says there is a high chance he has appeared at the French Open for the final time after his first-round exit on Monday.

The Spaniard has won a record 14 titles on the clay courts at the Paris tournament, yet came unstuck in a straight-sets hammering by Alexander Zverev.

An emotional Court Philippe-Chatrier crowd watched on as Nadal was picked apart by the impressive Zverev, who triumphed 6-3 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 in just over three hours.

In doing so, Zverev became only the third player to defeat Nadal at Roland-Garros – after Robin Soderling and Novak Djokovic.

Yet this defeat could mark Nadal's last in the French capital as speculation swirls over the 37-year-old's future with injury issues persisting.

Nadal said after the loss: "It's incredible. I don't know if it's going to be the last time that I'm going to be here in front of all of you.

"I am not 100 per cent sure, but if it's the last time, I have enjoyed it. The crowd have been amazing during the whole week of preparation and today.

"The feelings I have today are difficult to describe in words. For me, it's so special to feel the love of the people in the place that I love the most."

Nadal has won 112 matches at Roland-Garros, the highest tally in men's singles main draws in the Open Era at a single major event.

The 22-time major winner adding to that impressive record appears unlikely.

"I have been going through a very tough two years in terms of injuries," he continued. "I went through all these processes with the dream to be here at Roland Garros.

"I was competitive, I had my chances, but it was not enough against a great player like Sacha.

"There's a big percentage that I will not be back here playing at Roland-Garros, but I can say that I've enjoyed playing here a lot.

"Maybe, in two months, I say it's enough and I can't give anything else, but it's something I don't feel yet.

"I have some goals. I hope to be back on this court for the Olympics, that motivates me. That's going to be another chance. I really hope to be well-prepared."

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