Rafael Nadal in the final after Alexander Zverev’s ankle injury, video, photos
Rafael Nadal reached his 14th French Open final on Friday when Alexander Zverev was forced out of his semi-final after sustaining a right ankle injury.
Zverev had to leave the pitch in a wheelchair after twisting his ankle as he chased the ball past the players’ boxes on Philippe Chatrier court where his team and family were seated.
The German was leading 7-6 (10/8), 6-6 after more than three hours of play at the time of the horror injury.
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As his screams of pain echoed around the 15,000-seater pitch, a tearful Zverev was helped by medics.
Minutes later, the 25-year-old returned on crutches and conceded the game, with Nadal hugging his heartbroken opponent.
“It’s very hard and very sad for him. He was playing an incredible tournament and he’s a very good colleague on the circuit,” Nadal said.
“I know how hard he fights to win a Grand Slam. So far he has been very unlucky. I’m sure he won’t win one, but many more. I wish him the best.
“It was a super tough game. Over three hours and we haven’t even finished the second set. It’s one of the biggest challenges on the tour when he plays like he did today.
He added: “For me, being in the final of Roland Garros is a dream, no doubt, but at the same time, that it ends like this… I was there in the small room with Sascha and for the see her cry like that – I wish her all the best.
Nadal, chasing a record 22nd Grand Slam title, will face either Marin Cilic or Casper Ruud in Sunday’s final.
Until the dramatic end of the match, Zverev had pushed Nadal all the way. In a rollercoaster 91-minute first set, Zverev broke in the opener before Nadal equalized at 4-4.
The Spaniard, dripping with sweat under the closed roof of Court Philippe Chatrier, saw three set points come and go in the 10th game as the German’s all-or-nothing hit kept him in the game.
Nadal, who turned 36 on Friday, then saved four set points in a sharp tie-break, including one from a spectacular crosscourt forehand.
A searing forehand pass gave him the opener on a sixth set point. Zverev, making the Roland Garros semi-finals for the second straight year, hit 25 winners and 26 unforced errors in the set.
The second set was punctuated by eight service breaks. When Nadal broke for 2-1, he did so following a grueling 44-shot rally.
Zverev also received a bad language warning as the set headed for another tie-break.
However, that quickly became moot when his bid to reach a second Grand Slam final ended in such dramatic circumstances.
Nadal becomes the second oldest man to qualify for the final in Paris after 37-year-old Bill Tilden, a runner-up in 1930.
The victory gives Nadal, who knocked out world number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, a 111-3 record at Roland Garros.
RUUD ORGANIZES THE FRENCH OPEN FINAL AGAINST “IDOL” NADAL
Casper Ruud became the first Norwegian to reach a Grand Slam final on Friday when he set up a French Open title clash with 13-time champion Rafael Nadal, the man he described as his “idol”. .
World number eight Ruud beat Croatian Marin Cilic 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in a semi-final which was delayed when a protester ran onto the pitch and tied himself up by the neck in the fillet.
She wore a shirt that carried the slogan: “We have 1028 days left” before she was finally released by security guards.
The game resumed after 15 minutes of delay.
Ruud fired 16 aces and 41 winners past 2014 US Open champion Cilic.
“It was a great game from my side, I didn’t start the best but Marin had a really good first set,” said the 23-year-old Norwegian.
“I admire Rafa. He is the perfect example of how to behave on the pitch, never give up and never complain. He has been my idol all my life.
“He’s the last Big Three player I’ve ever played against, so I guess now is the perfect time. Playing him in a Grand Slam final will be great. Hopefully for him too, playing against a student of his academy.
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