Zverev Triumphs Against Nadal in Roland Garros, a Memorable First-Rounder
Rafael Nadal hitting the court to play his first rounder in Roland Garros, Paris, France. Photo courtesy: French Open / FFT.

World number four Alexander Zverev delivers a sublime performance to edge 14-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal after an over three-hour battle to reach the second round on Monday.

Fourth seed Alexander Zverev battles through an electric three-hour, five-minute contest, defeating Rafael Nadal, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-3, on the iconic Court Philippe-Chatrier on Monday in Paris.

In his on-court interview, Zverev said: “To be honest, I don’t know what to say. First of all, thank you, Rafa. It’s such a great honor.”

I’ve watched Rafa play all my childhood, and I was lucky enough to play Rafa when I became a professional,” he added.

I don’t know what to say. Today is not my moment; it is Rafa’s moment, thank you.”

The Match As It Happened

The second day of first-round action at Roland-Garros saw Zverev breaking to open first-set proceedings and quickly extending his lead to 2-0.

Nonetheless, the opening games featured nervous, erratic performances from both contenders.

On one side of the net under the fitted roof of a packed Court Philippe-Chatrier, 14-time Roland Garros champion, likely playing his final French Open.

On the other, the reigning Italian Open winner, Zverev. He is facing the living legend in a rematch of their 2022 clash when he badly injured his ankle and was forced to retire from one of the best matches of his career.

Game on, in the fourth game, the Spaniard adds pressure, forcing his opponent to fend off two break points to hold on serve, but so did Nadal, who did not drop a lone point behind his serve to narrow the gap to 2-3.

Delivering his first serve at an average speed of 200 km/while finding depth and power in his shots, the Hamburg-born fought across an edgy ninth game in which he ultimately converted a double break to take the opener 6-3 in 52 minutes.

A dominant display saw the fourth seed winning 78 percent of the first serve points and 60 on his second serve.

For his part, Nadal attacked the net, winning 100 percent of his approaches, serving and moving much better, building form from his previous appearances in Barcelona, Madrid, and Rome.

Neither player conceded points on serve until the third game of the second set when the 27-year-old fired two aces to earn a 2-1 advantage.

The King of Clay played with aggression, drawing level at 2-2, setting the crowd on fire.

Then, the 37-year-old converted his first break point with a forehand inside-out drop shot winner in the fifth game, inching ahead with great intensity, a moment that the crowd cheered.

With the wind in his sail, he moved on, backing up the break to inch ahead 4-2.

Coming to the net often, generating some spectacular volleys in the process, the former world number one was flawless en route to a 5-3 lead.

Meanwhile, the former World No. 2 held his ground, striking two consecutive aces to seal the ninth game in his favor. At this point in the second set, he had added five backhand winners to his name.

Kicking up a level, he mastered his performance on the return, mixing with impressive hitting power, going the distance to produce a crucial break at love when his rival was serving for the set, drawing level 5-5.

Serving under pressure, Zverev hit a double fault but held his nerve to come out on top 6-5, finding breathing room when Nadal missed two break-point chances in the 11th game.

Unrelenting, the 92-time ATP champion sent the second set to a nail-biting tiebreak, which the World No. 4 took in his second set point, wrapping up 7-6(5) in 67 minutes.

Trailing two sets to love, Nadal kicked off the third set on a high note, quickly up a break.

However, the 22-time tour-level winner broke straight back, and after a hard-fought fourth game, he held to set level 2-2.

A monumental game went the Spaniard way after a high-level 11-minute battle, in which he saved four break points, up 3-2.

Nonetheless, Zverev continued to impose his rhythm, converting two more break points to close out the set 6-3 and the match after over three hours.

He finished with 44 winners and 30 unforced errors compared to his opponent, 34 and 30, respectively. Moreover, he won 72 percent of the first-serve points.

Interviewed on court, Nadal commented: “The feelings I have today are difficult to describe in words, but for me, it’s so special to feel the love of the people…in the place that I love the most.”

For now, one of the best athletes in the world says farewell to an enigmatic place that will always be the home of a warrior who stood tall until the very last ball.

Cecilia demartini
Sports Pundit staff writer @ceci_2812
Cecilia is a writer and journalist, passionate about motorsport and tennis.Her articles are published in newspapers and international online publications.

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