Alexander Zverev, a big challenge for Rafael Nadal in the semifinals

Alexander Zverev, a big challenge for Rafael Nadal in the semifinals

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After his feat against Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal will play in the first semi-final of the 2022 edition of the Roland Garros tournament on Friday. On the clay of Paris, the Spaniard is king. But his fitness is worrying as the powerful Alexander Zverev stands in front of him.

Rafael Nadal will he celebrate his 36th birthday with a fourteenth qualifier for the Roland Garros final? On Friday, June 3, the Majorcan blows out an extra candle. And for this special day, he is entitled to a new game at the top, on this clay where he has already shone so brightly.

Three days after his legendary quarterfinal against Novak Djokovicwhich started on Tuesday night and ended on Wednesday at 1:16 am, Rafael Nadal returns to the Philippe-Chartier court to face Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals.

The German, currently No. 3 in the world, does not have the record or the reputation of his opponent of the day in Paris. And if Rafael Nadal, a model of professionalism, probably has no intention of underestimating the semi-finalist, Alexander Zverevhe has the means to grab his opponent’s machine.

Zverev finally wants to win

In the quarterfinals, the one nicknamed “Sascha” struck a big blow by eliminating the Spanish phenomenon Carlos Alcaraz. Exceptional since the beginning of the year, the latter seemed destined to find his eldest Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals, in what could have looked like a witness pass between the veteran and the young prodigy. But Alexander Zverev got involved and outscored Carlos Alcaraz in four sets, giving himself the right to challenge the clay master.

The reigning Olympic singles champion in Tokyo last summer, the German giant – 1.98 m – had already risen to the semi-finals at the last edition of Roland-Garros. The Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas had then tamed him. This time, he hopes to reach the final, he has never hung a Grand Slam tournament on his record – his best result: a finalist in the US Open 2020.

After his success against Carlos Alcaraz, Alexander Zverev did not hide his ambition. “I’m not 20 or 21 anymore. I’m 25. I’m at a stage where I want to win, where I’m supposed to win,” he said, while he still didn’t know if he would face Novak. Djokovic or Rafael Nadal. But no matter what the opponent, Alexander Zverev finally wants to make his progress with a Grand Slam title.

He will therefore have to achieve a feat: becoming the third man to beat Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros. In the space of 17 years and 113 matches against Auteuil, only the Swede Robin Söderling, in 2009, and the Serbian Novak Djokovic, in 2015 and 2021, have succeeded.

How is Nadal after his battle with Djokovic?

But the man with the thirteen coronations in Paris will also have to be strong to overcome the Zverev obstacle. The German serves very strong and develops an aggressive game. His power has already done damage: in nine confrontations against him, Rafael Nadal has lost three times, including once on the clay of the Madrid Masters 1000 in 2021. These three setbacks have been recorded on their last four face-offs. -face.

The “Bull of Manacor” must also fight with another tough opponent: himself, or rather his weakened body to be precise. The Spaniard made no secret of his physical condition. Affected by Müller-Weiss Syndrome, a scaphoid bone necrosis that causes chronic pain, he suffers martyrdom at the level of his left foot.

Admittedly, with care and a flurry of anti-inflammatory drugs, Rafael Nadal has been able to respond so far. But how is he after his 4:12 game against Djokovic, knowing he had already spent so much time on the court in the previous round against Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime?

“It will be a physical but also a mental challenge. Normally, when Rafa beats Djokovic in a Grand Slam tournament, it is in the final and he wins the trophy. But this time it was quarterfinals. He has two days to recover. but it’s going to be a tough test for Rafa, “warned former British tennis player Tim Henman, who has become a Eurosport consultant. Whether she sees the Nadal legend triumph again or the ambitious Zverev win, this semi-final will be worth its weight in gold.


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