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Nadal defeated in likely French Open farewell

By Primenewsghana
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Rafael Nadal's record-breaking French Open career came to its likely end on Monday when the 14-time champion slumped to a demoralising first round defeat against Alexander Zverev before he admitted: "I really hope to see you again -- but I don't know."

Nadal, who turns 38 on 3 June, went down 6-3, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 to world number four Zverev, suffering only his fourth loss in 116 matches at Roland Garros since his 2005 title-winning debut.

It was the first time he had been defeated in Paris in the opening round and will again lead to questions over his long-term future in the sport.

"It is difficult for me to talk, I don't know if it's the last time I'll be here in front of all of you," he said.

"Honestly, I am not sure. If it is, then you have been amazing. The feelings I have today are difficult to describe in words. It is the place I love the most."

He added: "It's hard to say about the future. I am travelling with my family and I am having fun. The body is feeling better than it did two months ago.

"Maybe in two months I say it's enough. That is something I don't feel yet."

Nadal may not return for the 2025 French Open but he still plans to play the Olympics in the city in July.

"I hope to be back here for the Olympics, that motivates me. I really hope to be well prepared," he said to loud cheers.

Plagued by injuries, which had limited him to just four events since January last year, former world number one Nadal is now 275 in the rankings and was unseeded in Paris.

However, he insisted on the eve of the tournament that he was "100% keeping the door open" on his future in a sport which has brought him 22 Grand Slam titles.


"I don't know what to say. Thank you Rafa from all of the tennis world. It is such a great honour," said Zverev.

"I've watched Rafa play all my childhood and I was lucky enough to play him two times on this beautiful court. Today is not my moment, it is Rafa's moment."

In a repeat of the 2022 semifinal, which Nadal won when Zverev quit with ankle ligament damage, the Spaniard had his chances.

He was a break of serve up in the second and third sets, only to be pinned back on both occasions by his in-form 27-year-old opponent.

Chants of "Rafa, Rafa" had loudly echoed under the roof of Court Philippe Chatrier which was shut tight against the torrential rain sweeping across the grounds and bringing havoc to the schedule.

They subsided to silence when Nadal was broken to love in his opening service game and he was left to regret his inability to convert two break points in the fourth game.

Nadal saved two set points in the ninth game but surrendered the opener after 50 minutes when he buried a loose forehand into the net.

It was only the fourth opening set he had lost at Roland Garros.

Nadal broke for the first time in the match to lead 3-2 in the second set but couldn't back up the advantage and handed the break back to three-time semi-finalist Zverev as he served for the set.


A tense tie-breaker followed which the German claimed, buoyed by stretching to 5/3 on the back of a gruelling 19-shot rally.

Nadal dug deep and with the likes of Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek having watched from the packed stands, he broke and held for 2-0 in the third set.

However, Zverev again roared back to level at 2-2 before a besieged Nadal had to save four break points in a 13-minute fifth game to stay in contention.

The effort was too much and a composed Zverev was soon 4-3 up and the match was over when Nadal fired a forehand wide and long.

"The amount of feelings I had on this court throughout my career, I didn't think I would be here almost 38 with all of the success. It has been a very beautiful process," said Nadal before he left to a standing ovation.


Italian world number two Jannik Sinner looked fully recovered from his injury problems as he saw off American Christopher Eubanks in the first round.

The Italian star eased to a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win under the new roof on Court Suzanne Lenglen as rain fell at Roland Garros.

Australian Open champion Sinner showed no signs of struggling with his fitness despite missing the recent Rome Open with a hip injury.

The Italian star struck 32 winners and broke Eubanks' serve five times as he set up a second-round meeting with French veteran Richard Gasquet.

Sinner is playing only his third tournament since winning the Miami Masters in March, after losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Monte Carlo Masters semifinals and then withdrawing from the Madrid Open before his quarterfinal match.

His victory on Monday took his win-loss record for the season to 29-2.

The 22-year-old is hoping to improve on his best French Open performance – a run to the quarterfinals on his debut in 2020.

American Eubanks enjoyed a breakthrough Wimbledon last year when he was beaten by Daniil Medvedev in the last eight in five sets, but has now lost seven consecutive matches.


Former runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas kicked off his campaign with a no-nonsense 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 6-1 victory over Hungarian journeyman Marton Fucsovics.

The ninth-seeded Greek, who won the Monte Carlos Masters this year, showed his range of qualities on clay to set up a second-round meeting with German Daniel Altmaier.

Sporting a black and yellow outfit, Tsitsipas ended his opponent's resistance in a one-sided third set.

The 25-year-old wrapped up victory when Fucsovics sent a return wide under the roof on Court Suzanne Lenglen.


American Ben Shelton won his first match at the French Open as he overcame Frenchman Hugo Gaston 3-6 6-3 6-4 6-4, not only surviving two interruptions from the Paris rain but also the wrath of the local fans.

Loud chants of "Hugo, Hugo" echoed across Court 14 as the home favourite took the opening set, but Shelton's fierce left-handed play quickly silenced the French crowd as he took the second, third and fourth sets, converting six of 14 break points to complete the two-hour, 29-minute encounter.

"This was a pretty amazing atmosphere, honestly. This is the first time that I've come out to a tennis match and had a band playing in the stands on my court, so I think that was pretty special," Shelton told a press conference.

"I love these moments. I enjoy these atmospheres. I got a lot of heckling when I was in college tennis, but today the crowd was just loud, chanting, supporting their countryman. It's something that you love to see. There was a lot of positives out there," he added.

The 21-year-old Shelton, who burst onto the scene last year when he reached the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park and the semis at the US Open, likened the atmosphere to an American football match and said he used to get booed at his college games.

"It's a big motivator when you hear the chants and cheers whenever you make an unforced error, but also, there was so much energy for me, which made it awesome," he said.

"Sometimes it's tough when it's completely silent when you hit a good shot, and they're going nuts every time that you miss, but here it was a little bit more even. Obviously, he had the home field advantage, but I felt some love out there," he added.

Shelton will play Kei Nishikori, who beat Gabriel Diallo 7-5 7-6(3) 3-6 1-6 7-5, in the second round.


Home favourite Gael Monfils needed four sets to edge Brazil's Thiago Seyboth Wild 6-2 3-6 6-3 6-4.

The 37-year-old Frenchman will next face Italian 30th seed Lorenzo Musetti in the second round.

Russia's Pavel Kotov, meanwhile, bounced back from a 2-1 set deficit to upset Briton 32nd seed Cameron Norrie 4-6 6-3 3-6 7-6(5) 6-2 and set up a clash against former French Open champion Stan Wawrinka in the second round.


Russian fifth seed Daniil Medvedev overcame a third-set wobble to beat German Dominik Koepfer 6-3 6-4 5-7 6-3 in barely more than three hours to close out day 2 in Paris.