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Rafael Nadal crashes out of French Open 2024 in first round in potential last dance at Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal suffered a straight sets loss to Alexander Zverev in his potential last match in the French Open. Nadal has won the tournament 14 times but suffered his first-ever first-round exit at the Roland Garros.

Written By: Varun Malik @varunm0212 New Delhi Updated on: May 27, 2024 22:37 IST
Rafael Nadal loses in first-round in potential final
Image Source : GETTY Rafael Nadal loses in first-round in potential final appearance.

Spanish legend Rafael Nadal suffered a never-seen-before first-round exit at the French Open 2024 after going down to Germany's Alexander Zverev on Monday, May 27. Nadal, a 14-time Roland Garros champion, went down in straight sets to the fourth-seeded Zverev at Philippe-Chatrier 3-6, 6-7 (5-7), 3-6.

This was his first-ever first-round exit in the French Open as he has never crashed out of the tournament before the third round. This might be Nadal's final game at the Grand Slam he owns like no one else as he has been hit with injuries in recent times and is about to be 38 years old. Nadal himself confirmed before the start of the tournament that there is a "big, big chance" that this will be his final French Open but kept a door ajar for another appearance next year saying, "I cannot predict what's going on".

Zverev and Nadal met each other last time at this very Grand Slam in the semifinal two years ago when the German was forced to retire hurt after injuring his ankle. But he was highly motivated for this one. He announced himself when he broke Nadal's serve in the first game of the opening set, sending shockwaves at the Philippe-Chatrier. He hardly broke down a sweat, winning all his serves and going a set up 6-3.

Nadal looked for a comeback in the second one, going 2-1 up while breaking Zverev. But the German came back to make it 2-2. The Spaniard had a great chance to win the set and level the match. He broke Zverev to lead 3-2 and then had a 5-3 lead but squandered it as the set moved to a tiebreaker where Zverev took the second one too.

Down but not done, Nadal took a 2-0 lead in the must-win set with a break but the steam ended soon as Zverev hit back to make it 3-3 and then broke the Spaniard to make it 4-3 and a comeback way too difficult for the 14-time champion. He won his serve and broke Nadal for the sixth time to win the game, the set and the match. This was Nadal's only fourth defeat at Roland Garros with the other three being in 2009, 2015 and 2021. He has an astonishing record of 112-4 in Paris.

Speaking after the match, Nadal said there are high chances he might not come back here next year but did not said it is 100%. "I don’t know if this is farewell, but if it was, it was special to feel the love in the place I love the most. I have to congratulate Sacha on victory and winning in Rome. For me, I have been going through a tough two years in terms of injuries. I went through the process to get back to Roland Garros, the dream. I was competitive, I had my chances, but it was tough against this opponent," he said after the match.

"It is a big percentage this was my last match at Roland Garros but I cannot say for sure. I am enjoying travelling with my family. My body is feeling good. Maybe I two months I say it’s enough, I can’t give more. But I hope to be back on this court for the Olympics. That’s another chance. I hope to be prepared. This court, I could not have imagined being here at almost 38 years old, with winning so many times. I could not have dreamed about it. It was beautiful," he added.


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