Tearful Federer Bows Out Of Tennis With Laver Cup Defeat

Switzerland’s Roger Federer wipes his face after losing the ATP 250 Geneva Open tennis match against Spain’s Pablo Andujar on May 18, 2021 in Geneva. – Federer lost the first match of his comeback-proper as the Swiss tennis great tumbled out of the Geneva Open on his first outing in two months. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

 

 

Roger Federer described his tennis career as a “perfect journey” despite being denied a fairytale ending with a doubles defeat at the Laver Cup early on Saturday alongside Rafael Nadal.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion has not played since the 2021 Wimbledon quarter-finals because of a knee injury and last week announced his retirement aged 41.

The Swiss showed glimpses of his old silky self in the match against Team World’s Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock at London’s O2 arena despite his long period of enforced inaction.

Playing with long-time friend and rival Nadal, the two former world number ones won the first set to the delight of a feverish, partisan crowd, but the Americans rallied to win 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 11-9.

The result meant Team Europe were locked at 2-2 with Team World at the end of the opening day of the Ryder Cup-style event.

“We’ll get through this somehow, will we? Right?” Federer said with a cracked voice during an emotional post-match farewell on court.

“I’m happy, I’m not sad. It feels great to be here and I enjoyed tying my shoes one more time. Everything was the last time. The match was great, I couldn’t be happier. It’s been wonderful.”

– ‘Thank you’ –
Federer has enjoyed a storied rivalry with Spain’s Nadal, 36, over nearly two decades — together they have won 42 Grand Slam singles titles in a golden era for the men’s game.

But in a match that started late Friday they were on the same side of the net in a fitting farewell for Federer, who turned professional nearly a quarter of a century ago.

There was a huge roar and standing ovation as the Swiss great and Nadal came onto the black court, dressed in blue shirts and white shorts, both wearing white headbands.

Both doubles pairings held serve fairly comfortably at the start of the match, with cries of “Let’s go Roger, let’s go” breaking out at 3-3.

Federer and Nadal seized on their first break point in the 10th game, winning the first set when Sock netted with a backhand to huge cheers.

The Americans levelled the match by taking the second set tie-break with ease.

In a nerve-shredding match tie-break, Federer was unable to serve out for the match at 9-8, with Tiafoe and Sock winning the next three points to emerge victorious.

The Swiss was overcome with emotion afterwards, hugging teammate Nadal and waving to the crowd.

“Playing with Rafa on the same team, and having the guys, everybody here, all the legends… thank you,” said Federer, who was joined by his parents, wife Mirka and their four children.

“It does feel like a celebration to me,” he added. “I wanted to feel like this at the end and it is exactly what I hoped for, so thank you. It has been a perfect journey and I would do it all over again.”

Nadal, who was also visibly emotional, said it had been difficult to handle the intensity of the occasion.

“For me, it has been a huge honour to be a part of this amazing moment of the history of our sport, and at the same time a lot of years sharing a lot of things together,” said the Spaniard.

“When Roger leaves the tour an important part of my life is leaving too.”

The six-strong Team Europe also includes Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray — the other two members of the so-called “Big Four” who have dominated the men’s game for so many years.

– Federer leaves ‘void’ –
Italy’s Matteo Berrettini will take Federer’s place over the weekend as an alternate, with the Swiss great opting not to play singles matches.

Europe have won all four previous editions of the Laver Cup and took a 2-0 lead after the opening session in London, courtesy of wins for Norway’s Casper Ruud and Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas shrugged off a dramatic on-court protest by a demonstrator who set his own arm ablaze to protest the use of private jets to beat Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 6-1.

In the evening session Murray lost a gruelling encounter to Alex de Minaur 5-7, 6-3, 10-7 before all eyes turned to Federer.

The Swiss is leaving the stage 19 years after winning his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003.

He retires with a men’s record of eight Wimbledon crowns, 103 titles overall and more than $130 million in prize money, all won with a game defined by a rare elegance and precision.

Nadal (22) and Djokovic (21) have both surpassed Federer’s tally of Grand Slam titles but Team World captain John McEnroe said Federer’s retirement would leave “a void that will never be filled”.

AFP

Rafael Nadal Looks Forward To ‘Unforgettable’ Doubles With Roger Federer

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 12, 2019 Switzerland’s Roger Federer (R) speaks with Spain’s Rafael Nadal (L) after Federer won their men’s singles semi-final match on day 11 of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London.  (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Roger Federer will team up with long-time rival Rafael Nadal for the final match of his glittering career, Laver Cup organisers announced on Thursday.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion will play doubles with the Spaniard, who has won 22 majors, at the O2 arena in London on Friday.

Federer, whose most recent competitive match was a loss to Hubert Hurkacz in last year’s Wimbledon quarter-finals, has been struggling with a knee problem and will not play singles in London.

The Laver Cup is a team competition that pits Team Europe against Team World.

The six-strong European team, captained by Bjorn Borg, also includes 21-time major winner Novak Djokovic and three-time major winner Andy Murray.

Their opponents, Team World, skippered by John McEnroe, include Taylor Fritz, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Diego Schwartzman.

Federer, 41, announced last week he intended to retire after the three-day Laver Cup.

He said on Wednesday that finishing his career by teaming up with Nadal would be his dream scenario.

Federer said he and Nadal, 36, had always maintained respect for each other even as they vied for the biggest trophies in the sport.

“For us as well to go through a career that we both have had and to come out on the other side and being able to have a nice relationship I think is maybe a great message as well to not just tennis but sports and maybe even beyond,” he said.

Italian Matteo Berrettini, the first alternate for Europe, will take Federer’s place over the weekend.

Federer Retirement: Who’s Saying What

(FILES) This file combination of photo created on July 16, 2017 shows Switzerland’s Roger Federer holding up the Wimbledon Championships trophy after winning each of his eight men’s singles titles at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, in (top L-R) 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, (bottom L-R) 2007, 2009, 2012 and July 16, 2017. (Photo by – / AFP) 

 

 

Roger Federer’s decision to retire provoked an emotional reaction from current and former tennis players as well as stars in other sports.

AFP Sport looks at some of the tributes to the 20-time Grand Slam champion:

Old rivals and friends

“Dear Roger, my friend and rival, I wish this day would never have come. It’s been a pleasure but also an honour and privilege to share all these years with you, living so many amazing moments on and off the court.”

— Rafael Nadal on Twitter.

“I LOVE YOU, Roger. Thank you for everything you’ve done in tennis and with myself. Tennis world will never be the same without you.”

– Juan Marin del Potro, who retired earlier this year.

“Cheers Roger. Thanks for the shared memories my friend. It was an honour to share time/experiences on the most hallowed grounds in our sport. Don’t be a stranger… Also, seems like a good time to start training for Wimby.”

– Andy Roddick, who lost to Federer in three finals at Wimbledon and one at the US Open.

“Absolute living legend. Thanks for all the countless memories.”

– John Isner.

The young(er) guns

“Roger has been one of my idols and a source of inspiration! Thank you for everything you have done for our sport! I still want to play with you! Wish you all the luck in the world for what comes next!”

– World number one Carlos Alcaraz.

“A role model for me and so many others!!… It’s been a privilege to share the court with you!!”

– Canada’s Denis Shapovalov.

“Thank you for elevating the game in so many ways on and off the court. Thank you for all the advice you’ve given me over the years. Thank you for being the best role model for so many. Thank you for everything.”

– American prodigy Coco Gauff.

The greats

“I wanted to find the perfect way to say this, as you so eloquently put this game to rest – perfectly done, just like your career. I have always looked up to you and admired you. Our paths were always so similar, so much the same. You inspired countless millions and millions of people – including me – and we will never forget. I applaud you and look forward to all that you do in the future. Welcome to the retirement club.”

– Serena Williams

“Roger Federer is a champion’s champion. He has the most complete game of his generation & captured the hearts of sports fans around the world with an amazing quickness on the court & a powerful tennis mind. He has had a historic career w/memories that will live on and on.”

– Billie Jean King

“What a heartfelt message, full of love, life, hope, passion and gratitude. Which is exactly how Roger played the game we love so much. Thank you thank you thank you, for all the magic!!!”

– Martina Navratilova

“Thank you for everything Roger. See you soon. Rocket.”

– Rod Laver

The coaches

“The end of a magnificent era.”

– Judy Murray

“Rafael would not have been as strong without Roger Federer. He always had to raise his level… I feel very sad to see a sports icon, one of the most important players in tennis, announce his retirement.”

– Toni Nadal, Rafael’s uncle and former coach, speaking on French radio.

The organisation

“Legend of the game.”

– Roland Garros, where Federer won the 2009 title.

“Where do we begin? It’s been a privilege to witness your journey and see you become a champion in every sense of the word. We will so miss the sight of you gracing our courts, but all we can say for now is thank you, for the memories and joy you have given to so many.”

– Wimbledon, where Federer is a men’s record eight-time champion.

“You changed the game, #RForever.”

– ATP Tour

“Roger Federer is a gentleman on and off the court –- and a true Olympic champion.”

– International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

“Greatness defined. The end of an era.”

– The WTA Tour, alongside a photo of Federer embracing Serena Williams on court.

Other sports

“A genius, unique in tennis history and a role model for any sportsman. I wish you the best in your new stage, we will miss seeing you on the court.”

– Lionel Messi.

“What a career. We fell in love with your brand of tennis. Slowly, your tennis became a habit. And habits never retire, they become a part of us.”

– Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar.

“It’s been one of the great pleasures in life to watch you play.”

– Former England football striker Gary Lineker.

Nadal Loss At Cincinnati Secures Medvedev’s No. 1 Status

MASON, OHIO – AUGUST 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain acknowledges the crowd as he leaves the court after losing to Borna Coric of Croatia during the Western & Southern Open at Lindner Family Tennis Center on August 17, 2022 in Mason, Ohio. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by MATTHEW STOCKMAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

 

Rafael Nadal’s disaster comeback match on Wednesday at the Cincinnati Masters leaves the Spaniard lagging in the chase for the top ATP ranking.

Nadal was ambushed 7-6 (11/9), 4-6, 6-3 in his second-round start by Croat Borna Coric, ending his hopes of overtaking Daniil Medvedev for the world number one rankings.

Top seed Medvedev, who plays on Thursday for a quarter-final spot against Denis Shapovalov, can tighten his grip on his current top position heading into the US Open.

Third-ranked Nadal was rocked by his loss after six weeks away as he healed an abdominal muscle injury that forced his withdrawal from a Wimbledon semi-final against Nick Kyrgios.

 

MASON, OHIO – AUGUST 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain (L) and Borna Coric of Croatia shake hands after Coric won their match 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 during the Western & Southern Open at the Lindner Family Tennis Center on August 17, 2022 in Mason, Ohio. Dylan Buell/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Dylan Buell / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

Now Nadal goes into the US Open, which begins on August 29 in New York, with only one summer hardcourt match.

“In terms of New York, it’s a Grand Slam, a different kind of tournament,” Nadal said.

“I was only able to play two sets before this match in the last 40 days.

“I know that to gain condition. I will have to (be) on the tour practicing with the guys (other players).”

The 36-year-old Spaniard with 22 Grand Slam titles said he hopes to feed off fan energy at the US Open, where Nadal won titles in 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2019.

“There is an energy the crowd gives me in New York. It’s a very special place for me,” Nadal said.

“I’ve had unforgettable moments there and I’m going to try my very best every single day to be ready for that.”

 

 

MASON, OHIO – AUGUST 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain plays a backhand during his match against Borna Coric of Croatia during the Western & Southern Open at the Lindner Family Tennis Center on August 17, 2022 in Mason, Ohio. Dylan Buell/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Dylan Buell / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Nadal Out Of Wimbledon With Abdominal Injury, Kyrgios Into Final

Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates after the match point against Marcos Giron of the US during their men’s singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 17, 2022. (Photo by Brandon MALONE / AFP)

 

Rafael Nadal announced Thursday that he was withdrawing from Wimbledon after failing to recover from an abdominal injury, ending his hopes of a calendar Grand Slam.

Semi-final opponent Nick Kyrgios will receive a walkover into Sunday’s final, where he will play either top seed and six-time champion Novak Djokovic or Britain’s Cameron Norrie.

Nadal, a 22-time Grand Slam champion, struggled with the injury in a gruelling five-set win against 11th-seeded American Taylor Fritz on Wednesday.

Spanish sports daily Marca reported on Thursday that Nadal has a “seven-millimetre” tear to his abdomen but had still intended to play.

But the 36-year-old scheduled a press conference at which he confirmed he was withdrawing.

“I have to pull out of the tournament. As everybody saw yesterday I have been suffering with the pain in the abdominal area,” he said.

“I have a tear in the muscle.”

Nadal, the second seed, was visibly in pain during his match with Fritz and was forced to take a medical time-out in the second set.

But he returned to the court and twice recovered from a set down to win 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7/6 (10/4) in four hours and 21 minutes.

Rafael Nadal Shrugged Off Fresh Concerns Over His Fitness

INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 17 Rafael Nadal of Spain plays a backhand against Nick Kyrgios of Australia in their quarterfinal match on Day 11 of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2022 in Indian Wells, California.  (Photo by CLIVE BRUNSKILL / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

 

Rafael Nadal has shrugged off new concerns over his fitness as he targets a place in an eighth Wimbledon semi-final on Wednesday while Nick Kyrgios plays in the shadow of fresh controversy.

In Nadal’s last-16 clash against Botic van de Zandschulp, the 36-year-old had strapping across his abdomen.

Only last month, he won a 14th French Open with his troublesome left foot anaesthetised.

“I’m a little bit tired to talk about my body, all the issues that I am having,” said 22-time Grand Slam title winner Nadal who has never lost a Wimbledon quarter-final.

“I prefer to not talk about that now. For the moment I am healthy enough to keep going and fight for the things that I want.”

Nadal is halfway to the first calendar Grand Slam by a man since Rod Laver in 1969.

On Wednesday, he will seek to reach the semi-finals for the eighth time when he faces in-form Taylor Fritz.

The American is in the last eight of a Slam for the first time and has yet to drop a set. He warmed up for Wimbledon by claiming the grasscourt title at Eastbourne.

The 24-year-old defeated Nadal in the Indian Wells Masters final earlier this year when the Spaniard was suffering from a cracked rib.

– Court for Kyrgios –
That defeat ended his 20-match win streak and forced him to take a six-week rest before the clay court season.

Waiting in the semi-final will be either Australian Nick Kyrgios or Chile’s Cristian Garin.

Despite the presence of Nadal and six-time champion Novak Djokovic in the draw, Kyrgios has arguably been the headline act.

He is back in the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time since 2014, when he made a mockery of his 144 world ranking to stun Nadal.

The 27-year-old has taken his aces count past the 100 mark and hit a total of 257 winners over four rounds.

He has also been involved in plenty of controversy. Kyrgios was described as a “bully” with an “evil side” by third-round rival Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“I sit here now in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon again, and I just know there’s so many people that are so upset,” Kyrgios said.

The 40th-ranked player will go into Wednesday’s match just a day after reports emerged in Australia that he faces a court appearance in August on an allegation of assault.

– Halep on form –
Garin, ranked 43, saved two match points to beat Australia’s Alex de Minaur in a gruelling last-16 tie, which lasted four hours and 34 minutes.

Defending champion Djokovic and Britain’s Cameron Norrie will meet in the other semi-final after coming through tough five-setters on Tuesday.

In the women’s quarter-finals, 2019 champion Simona Halep tackles Amanda Anisimova of the United States.

Halep, working with Serena Williams’s former coach Patrick Mouratoglou, lost just three games to defeat fourth-seeded Paula Badosa in the last round.

The Romanian missed the 2021 championships due to injury but she is looking in ominous form at the All England Club, making the quarter-finals for a fifth time.

Of active players, only Serena and Venus Williams have played more.

Anisimova is back in the last eight of a Slam for the first time since making the French Open semi-finals in 2019 where she beat Halep in the quarter-finals.

Halep defeated the American on grass at Bad Homburg last month, dropping only three games.

In the day’s other quarter-final, Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic takes on big-serving Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan.

Tomljanovic also made the last eight in 2021, when where she was defeated by eventual champion Ashleigh Barty.

Russian-born Rybakina has not dropped a set as she made a second Slam quarter-final after reaching the last eight at the 2021 French Open.

– ‘It’s a gift’ –
Standing at an impressive six feet (1.84 metres) tall, Rybakina, who still lives in Moscow, has pounded 29 aces at the tournament so far.

In Monday’s win over Petra Martic, she unleashed the second-fastest serve of the women’s tournament — 122 miles (196 kilometres) per hour.

“I know that I have this gift. I’m tall and I play really fast,” said Rybakina, bidding to be the first Kazakh player to make a semi at the majors.

World number two Ons Jabeur and unseeded Tatjana Maria made sure of their semi-final places on Tuesday.

Serena Returns At Wimbledon As Nadal Eyes Next Leg Of Slam

Serena Williams of the US, playing with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, returns the ball to Japan’s Shuko Aoyama and Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching during their women’s doubles quarter final tennis match on day four of the Eastbourne International tennis tournament in Eastbourne, southern England on June 22, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

 

Serena Williams returns to singles tennis at Wimbledon after a year away on Tuesday as Rafael Nadal begins his quest to win the third leg of a potential calendar Grand Slam.

Women’s top seed Iga Swiatek, who has won her past six tournaments, will kick off proceedings on Centre Court at 1330 local time (1230 GMT) against Croatian qualifier Jana Fett.

But the main focus will be on seven-time champion Williams, who faces unseeded Harmony Tan of France in her first singles match since an injury forced her to pull out of her first-round match last year.

Williams, 40, won the last of her Wimbledon singles titles six years ago but reached the final in 2018 and 2019.

The American, who was given a wildcard for this year’s tournament, is stuck on 23 Grand Slam singles wins — agonisingly one short of Margaret Court’s all-time record.

Doubts had been growing about whether Williams — who has slumped to 1,204th in the world after her period of inaction, would return to the sport.

But she warmed up by teaming up with Ons Jabeur in the doubles at Eastbourne last week and Wimbledon is widely considered her best chance of winning an elusive 24th Grand Slam.

– Nadal eyes calendar slam-
Nadal is halfway to winning all four majors this year after following up his Australian Open triumph by winning his 14th French Open title.

No man has achieved the feat since Ron Laver in 1969, with Novak Djokovic falling just short last year when he lost in the final of the US Open.

The Spaniard’s win at Roland Garros earlier this month took him to 22 Grand Slam singles titles — two clear of Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Nadal won the most recent of his two Wimbledon titles in 2010, having captured his first with an epic triumph over Federer two years earlier.

There was a question mark over his durability for the two weeks at Wimbledon having played the entire French Open with his troublesome left foot anaesthetised.

The 36-year-old second seed has since undergone a course of radiofrequency stimulation, a treatment aimed at reducing nerve pain in his foot.

“I can walk normal most of the days, almost every single day,” said Nadal, who faces Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo in his opening match.

“When I wake up, I don’t have this pain that I was having for the last year and a half.”

Swiatek’s last match was a comprehensive victory against Coco Gauff in the French Open final — her 35th consecutive win.

Wimbledon will test the Polish top seed’s ability to keep the run going. Reaching the fourth round last year was her best performance, even though she was junior champion in 2018.

“Grass is always tricky,” said the 21-year-old. “I actually like the part that I have no expectations there. It’s something kind of refreshing.”

Other players in action in the women’s draw on Tuesday include 2019 champion Simona Halep, who is the 16th seed this year, and last year’s beaten finalist, Karolina Pliskova.

On the men’s side, fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas takes on Switzerland’s Alexander Ritschard while 2021 runner-up Matteo Berrettini, the eighth seed, plays Chile’s Cristian Garin.

Nadal Aims To Be French Open’s Oldest Champion Against Pupil Ruud

Spain’s Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Norway’s Casper Ruud during their men’s simples final match on day fifteen of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris on June 5, 2022. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

 

Rafael Nadal will become the oldest man to win the French Open title if he defeats Casper Ruud, the Norwegian whose clay court talents he has personally helped foster.

Nadal will be playing in his 14th Roland Garros final on Sunday and 30th overall at the Grand Slams.

Victory will deliver a record-extending 22nd major and 14th French Open, 17 years after his title winning debut in Paris.

The 36-year-od Nadal is, however, as surprised as anyone to have got this far.

A chronic left foot injury which has plagued him throughout his career flared up again in Rome last month, putting a serious question mark over him even making it to the French capital.

“Without a doubt, I’d prefer to lose the final and have a new foot,” admitted Nadal who has not hidden the brutal reality that every match he plays at Roland Garros may be his last.

Despite his fears, Nadal has impressively battled his way into Sunday’s championship match.

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He needed five sets and more than four hours to see off Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last 16 and another four hours to get past Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.

Alexander Zverev then pushed him all the way for three hours in the semi-finals until a sickening ankle injury forced the German world number three to quit on crutches.

Despite the German’s bold all-or-nothing challenge, Nadal still cut an impressive presence on court, at one point coming out on top in a lung-busting 44-shot rally.

“As each round goes by, he is transformed into a new player,” said coach Carlos Moya.

Nadal’s record at the French Open now stands at 111 wins and just three losses. Djokovic was responsible for two of those defeats.

– ‘The greatest’ –

Victory on Sunday will make him the tournament’s oldest champion, eclipsing compatriot Andres Gimeno who was 34 when he took the title 50 years ago.

World number eight Ruud, 23, is the tour’s in-form clay court player.

Not only have seven of his eight career titles come on clay, but he has won 66 matches on the surface since 2020 and played in nine finals.

Ruud is the first Norwegian to reach a Grand Slam final.

Robin Soderling, a fellow Scandinavian, is the only other man apart from Djokovic to have defeated Nadal in Paris back in 2009.

Ruud has been training at Nadal’s academy in Manacor since 2018 alongside his father Christian, a former top 40 player, and Spaniard Pedro Clar.

“I think we found a good balance. From a young age, 13 or 14, he respected that I was a player. He knew what I was talking about,” Christian told AFP on Sunday.

Nadal and Ruud have never met professionally but they are often hitting partners in Spain where the Norwegian admits “he has beaten me pretty much all the times in practice”.

“Casper has a very good character to play tennis. He’s very relaxed, humble. He’s always in a positive mood about learning,” said Nadal.

“I think in the academy we were able to help him a little bit during this period of time.”

Ruud was just six years old when Nadal was first crowned French Open champion and describes the Spaniard as his “idol”.

“I could probably tell you all the finals and who he has played and who he has beaten, because I watched them all on TV,” said the Norwegian.

“He’s the greatest clay court player of all time and one of the greatest all-around players.”

Victory for Nadal will give him the Australian Open-French Open double in the same year for the first time.

That would also put him halfway to a calendar Grand Slam, achieved only three times in history, the last of which was by Rod Laver in 1969.

“I fought, I have done all the things possible to give myself another chance to play in the final of Roland Garros,” said Nadal.

“All the sacrifices and all the things that I need to go through to try to keep playing, really makes sense when you enjoy moments like I’m enjoying in this tournament.”

Meanwhile, Coco Gauff suffered a second heartbreaking French Open final defeat when she and American partner Jessica Pegula were beaten by Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic in the women’s doubles final.

The French pair won 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 to add the 2022 title to their 2016 Roland Garros triumph.

On Saturday, 18-year-old Gauff had lost the singles final at Roland Garros in straight sets to Iga Swiatek of Poland.

“Hopefully, we can win one in the future,” Gauff told the crowd and praised the atmosphere.

“The band was pretty cool, I thought I was at an American Football game.”

Nadal Into 14th French Open Final As Zverev Quits With Horror Injury

Germany's Alexander Zverev (C) shakes hands with umpire Renaud Lichtenstein (L) as he walks on crutches after being injured during his men's semi-final singles match against Spain's Rafael Nadal (R) on day thirteen of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris on June 3, 2022. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP
Germany’s Alexander Zverev (C) shakes hands with umpire Renaud Lichtenstein (L) as he walks on crutches after being injured during his men’s semi-final singles match against Spain’s Rafael Nadal (R) on day thirteen of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris on June 3, 2022. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Rafael Nadal reached his 14th French Open final on Friday when Alexander Zverev was forced to quit their semi-final after suffering a sickening right ankle injury.

Zverev had to leave the court in a wheelchair after turning his ankle as he chased down the ball in front of the players’ boxes on Court Philippe Chatrier where his team and family were sitting.

The German was trailing 7-6 (10/8), 6-6 after more than three hours of play at the time of the horror injury.

As his piercing screams of pain echoed around the 15,000-seater court, a tearful Zverev was helped from the court by medics.

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Minutes later, the 25-year-old returned on crutches and conceded the match, with Nadal embracing his heartbroken opponent.

“It’s very tough and very sad for him. He was playing an unbelievable tournament and he’s a very good colleague on the tour,” said Nadal.

“I know how much he’s fighting to win a Grand Slam. For the moment, he was very unlucky. I’m sure he’ll win not one, but much more than one. I wish him all the best.

“It had been a super tough match. Over three hours and we didn’t even finish the second set. It’s one of the biggest challenges on the tour when he’s playing like he did today.”

Germany's Alexander Zverev falls injured on court during his men's semi-final singles match against Spain's Rafael Nadal on day thirteen of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris on June 3, 2022. Tomas Stevens / AFP
Germany’s Alexander Zverev falls injured on court during his men’s semi-final singles match against Spain’s Rafael Nadal on day thirteen of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris on June 3, 2022. Tomas Stevens / AFP

 

He added: “For me, to be in the final of Roland Garros is a dream, without a doubt, but at the same time, for it to finish that way… I have been there in the small room with Sascha and to see him crying like that — I wish him all the best.”

Nadal, chasing a record-extending 22nd Grand Slam title, will play either Marin Cilic or Casper Ruud in Sunday’s final.

Until the dramatic end of the match, Zverev had been pushing Nadal all the way.

In a rollercoaster, 91-minute first set, Zverev broke in the opening game before Nadal levelled at 4-4.

The Spaniard, dripping with sweat under the closed roof on Court Philippe Chatrier, saw three set points come and go in the 10th game as the German’s all-or-nothing hitting kept him in the match.

Nadal, celebrating his 36th birthday Friday, then saved four set points in a knife-edge tiebreak, one of them off a spectacular running crosscourt forehand.

A blistering forehand pass gave him the opener on a sixth set point.

Zverev, playing in the semi-finals at Roland Garros for the second successive year, hit 25 winners and 26 unforced errors in the set.

The second set was punctuated by eight breaks of serve. When Nadal broke for 2-1, he did so on the back of an exhausting 44-shot rally.

Zverev also collected a warning for bad language as the set headed towards another tiebreak.

However, that became quickly irrelevant when his attempt to reach a second Grand Slam final ended in such dramatic circumstances.

Nadal becomes the second oldest man to make the final in Paris after 37-year-old Bill Tilden who was runner-up in 1930.

Victory gives Nadal, who knocked out world number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, a 111-3 record at the French Open.

 

AFP

Nadal Eyes 14th French Open Final Despite Future Fears

File photo: Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates after the match point against Marcos Giron of the US during their men’s singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 17, 2022. (Photo by Brandon MALONE / AFP)

 

Rafael Nadal looks to celebrate his 36th birthday on Friday by reaching a 14th French Open final which by his own admission could be the last of his record-breaking career.

Nadal, the 13-time champion, faces Germany’s Alexander Zverev but is clear his chronic, long-term foot injury has put him on borrowed time.

“The last three months and a half for me, the only thing that I can say is haven’t been easy,” said the Spaniard after his epic four-set win over old rival Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.

“But I have to keep going.”

Nadal, chasing a record-extending 22nd Grand Slam title to move two in front of Djokovic and Roger Federer, is working constantly to find a cure for the foot issue.

“If we are not able to find an improvement or a small solution, then it’s becoming super difficult for me.

“I am just enjoying every day that I have the chance to be here, and without thinking much about what can happen in the future.

– Find solution –

“I’m going to keep fighting to find a solution, but for the moment, we haven’t.”

Nadal’s win over defending champion and world number one Djokovic was the 110th of his 17-year Roland Garros career.

He has had to dig deep into his resources to reach his 15th semi-final in the French capital

It took him four hours and 21 minutes to defeat Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round in a tie which saw him stretched to five sets for only the third time at the tournament.

Against Djokovic, he needed four hours and 12 minutes, saving two set points in the fourth set to avoid another five-setter.

Djokovic is the man responsible for two of Nadal’s three losses at the French Open.

With his career-long rival out of the way, and world number two Daniil Medvedev and fourth-ranked 2021 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas eliminated, Nadal remains favourite to lift the trophy on Sunday.

Against Zverev, he boasts a 6-3 winning record, capturing four of the pair’s five clay court meetings.

Zverev, 11 years younger than Nadal, is still searching for a maiden Slam title. He is into a second successive French Open semi-final.

– ‘Supposed to win’ –

He defeated teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz in the quarter-finals but had to save a match point in a five-set win over Argentina’s Sebastian Baez in the second round.

He has also never defeated Nadal or Djokovic at the majors.

“I’m not 20 or 21 years old anymore; I’m 25. I am at the stage where I want to win, I’m at the stage where I’m supposed to win,” admitted the third seed.

In Friday’s other semi-final, Marin Cilic takes on Casper Ruud with both men having made the semi-finals at Roland Garros for the first time.

Cilic, 33, and the 2014 US Open champion, is only the fifth active player along with Nadal, Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray to have reached the semi-finals of all four Slams.

Cilic, ranked 23 in the world, is in his first semi-final at the majors since 2018 when he was runner-up to Federer at the Australian Open.

Ruud is the first Norwegian man ever to make the last four of a Slam with the eighth-ranked 23-year-old one of the form players on clay.

His testy quarter-final win over 19-year-old Holger Rune was his 65th on clay since the 2020 season. Seven of his eight titles have come on clay.

Ruud has a 2-0 edge over Cilic, including their only meeting on the surface in Rome.

Former world number three Cilic knocked out Medvedev in straight sets in the fourth round, without facing a break point, and seventh-ranked Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals on the back of 33 aces and 88 winners.

Only two of his 20 career titles have come on clay courts, the most recent of which was at Istanbul in 2017.

Despite his surprise run to the last-four, where he is comfortably the lowest seed left, Cilic is content to maintain a low profile.

“I really don’t mind being under the highlights. I’m just trying to use my opportunities as much as I can during my career every day, every match to give my best,” he said.

Nadal Loses Out As Djokovic French Open Clash Gets Night Session

Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates after the match point against Marcos Giron of the US during their men’s singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 17, 2022. (Photo by Brandon MALONE / AFP)

 

Rafael Nadal’s French Open quarter-final against long-time rival Novak Djokovic will take place in Tuesday’s night session at Roland Garros despite the 13-time champion’s desire to play in the day.

Officials confirmed Monday that the pair’s 59th career meeting will be the late match under the lights of Court Philippe Chatrier with the day’s other quarter-final between Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev set for the afternoon.

“I don’t like to play on clay during the night, because the humidity is higher, the ball is slower, and there can be very heavy conditions especially when it’s cold,” said Nadal last week.

“I think that makes a big difference between the way tennis is played on clay during the night and during the day.”

Djokovic had hinted he would prefer to face Nadal as late as possible.

“All I will say is Rafa and I would make different requests,” said the world number one and defending champion.

Alcaraz said it would have been “unfair” if he was ordered to play after 9pm for the third time. Nadal and Djokovic have played one match each so far after dark.

Zverev was also dismissive of night-time conditions.

“I don’t mind the evening sessions when it’s 30 degrees during the day,” said the 25-year-old.

“When it’s 14 degrees, then in the night it’s going to be what, 8, 9, something like that, it gets difficult.”

Organisers faced a dilemma over scheduling with host broadcaster Prime Video having the rights to the tournament’s 10 night sessions.

Officials said an agreement had been reached whereby the match — the 10th between Djokovic and Nadal at Roland Garros — would be available free to air.

“The quarter-final match between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal scheduled for Tuesday 31 May at 8:45 p.m. will be free to watch as unrestricted content in France across Prime Video mobile and web apps,” said a statement.

However, France’s public service broadcaster, which carries coverage of the tournament on terrestrial channels, hit out.

“France Televisions regrets this decision which deprives French viewers of one of the most beautiful adverts of the tournament,” they said in a statement.

Djokovic And Nadal Bid To Derail Alcaraz Hype At French Open

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at the French Open.

 

 

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, with 41 Grand Slam titles between them, will attempt to derail the growing hype surrounding teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz at the French Open from Sunday.

All three have been placed in the top-half of the draw, meaning only one will make the Roland Garros final.

Defending champion Djokovic is seeded to face 13-time winner Nadal in the quarter-finals. Alcaraz is a potential semi-final opponent.

“I feel I am always in contention to fight for any Grand Slam trophy,” said Djokovic who arrives in Paris fired up by his inability to defend his Australian Open title in January when he was deported over his vaccination status.

“Reliving the memories from last year is something that obviously gives me goose bumps and motivation to try to replicate that.”

Djokovic, who turns 35 on Sunday, captured a second French Open title in 2021.

He did it the hard way, coming from two sets down to beat Lorenzo Musetti in the last-16, winning an epic four-set semi-final against Nadal before needing to overturn another two-set deficit to see off Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

Djokovic has played only five tournaments in 2022 but arrives in Paris buoyed by a sixth Italian Open title, becoming just the fifth man to win 1,000 career matches in the process.

It was his 38th Masters triumph, two more than Nadal at the top of the all-time list.

– Nadal ‘feels better’ –
Djokovic starts his French Open against 94th-ranked Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan.

Nadal has played down concerns over the chronic foot issue that resurfaced in Rome last week.

On Wednesday, he practiced in front of thousands of fans at Roland Garros without any obvious discomfort.

“There is nothing to recover,” Nadal told reporters Friday. “What happened in Rome is something that happened very often in my practices.”

“I was suffering after that for a couple of days, but I feel better. That’s why I’m here.”

Nadal began the year with a 20-match winning run, capturing a second Australian Open title to claim a record 21st Grand Slam and move ahead of Djokovic and Roger Federer.

The 35-year-old’s record at the French Open stands at a staggering 105 wins and just three losses since his 2005 title-winning debut.

Djokovic has been responsible for two of those defeats. One of those came in the bruising semi-final 12 months ago, the most recent clash of the pair’s epic 58-match rivalry.

“I just watched Rafa practice and it’s funny because all of a sudden his forehand is just 20 miles an hour faster. He moves lighter on his feet,” said world number three Alexander Zverevn on Friday.

“There is something about this court that makes him play 30% better, just being on this court.”

Nadal takes on Australia’s Jordan Thompson in the first round.

Alcaraz, just 19, has rocketed to six in the world on the back of four titles — three on clay — in 2022.

– ‘Special’ Alcaraz –
He won a second Masters title in Madrid, sweeping Nadal, Djokovic and Zverev on the way.

“He definitely is special,” admitted Djokovic of Alcaraz who also claimed the prestigious Miami Masters earlier in the year.

Alcaraz was ranked 97 this time last year.

He was only two when Nadal won the first of his 13 French Opens in 2005 but he made his mark at the 2021 tournament where he came through qualifying to reach the third round.

Alcaraz, who has 28 wins and just three defeats this year, opens his campaign on Sunday against Argentine lucky loser Juan Ignacio Londero, ranked at 141 but who made the last 16 in 2019.

Russian world number two Daniil Medvedev, who gave up a two-sets lead to lose to Nadal in the Australian Open final, only returned to action in Geneva this week after undergoing a hernia operation.

The US Open champion has 13 titles to his name but has yet to master the draining demands of clay.

At Roland Garros, he was winless in his first four visits before managing to stop the rot with a quarter-final run in 2021.

Greek world number four Tsitsipas has enjoyed a solid clay season.

He defended his Monte Carlo title before making the last-eight in Barcelona, semi-finals in Madrid and final in Rome.