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French Open: Rafael Nadal defeats Alexander Zverev as German leaves court in wheelchair

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Rafael Nadal has reached 14 finals of the French Open, but never amid scenes of his opponent being taken off the field in a wheelchair.

An already unusual encounter with Alex Zverev came to a harrowing end when the world No. 3 landed on his ankle at a sickening angle while trying to hit a forehand from the corner of Court Philippe Chatrier.

The arena watched in stunned silence as the German screamed in pain and several officials — including Nadal — rushed to his aid.

Rafael Nadal (left) dramatically and sadly made it to the French Open final on Friday night

Alexander Zverev, 25, was taken off court in a wheelchair after hurting his ankle

Alexander Zverev, 25, was taken off court in a wheelchair after hurting his ankle

The German rushed to return a cross-court forehand but only saw his right ankle buckle

The German rushed to return a cross-court forehand but only saw his right ankle buckle

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And while he was taken to hospital for scans, Nadal entered a stage of the tournament where he has never been beaten to an official score of 7-6, 6-6.

Nadal now faces Norwegian No. 8 Casper Ruud, who defeated Croatian veteran Marin Cilic 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in a match interrupted by a climate change protester who chained himself to the net .

The Spaniard needs no introduction to the 23-year-old, who spent time training at his academy in Mallorca as a teenager.

The fact is, he will likely be on 22 Grand Slam titles on Sunday night, two ahead of Novak Djokovic and the barely active Roger Federer. If there’s any irony about Friday’s troubling denouement, it’s that most of the anxieties of these fortnights have surrounded Nadal’s own condition, getting this far only on a diet of constant treatment and, reportedly, pain-relieving drugs. injections.

The two were about to go into a tiebreak in the second set when the incident happened

The two were about to go into a tiebreak in the second set when the incident happened

Zverev (right) left the field in a wheelchair, but reappeared with Nadal on crutches

Zverev (right) left the field in a wheelchair, but reappeared with Nadal on crutches

The condition of his left foot is said to be extremely dangerous – Nadal went on to say he ‘would rather lose Sunday’s final and get a new foot’ – but again there was very little outward sign of that.

A master at lowering expectations, Nadal has once again disrupted his pre-Parisian gloom.

After the Italian Open, he was extremely gloomy about the bone problems in his foot, but here he is again, in the final.

“After Rome I wasn’t very positive, but I was sure I can play here,” he said.

“I played, I fought, I did everything possible to at least give myself a chance to be where I am today. So that means a lot to me. All the sacrifices and the things I have to go through to try and keep playing, they really make sense when you enjoy moments like this.”

He had not enjoyed seeing Zverev cry in the physio room right after the game.

As a result of Zverev's withdrawal, Nadal is now through to yet another Roland Garros final - a stage of the tournament where he has never lost in his esteemed career

As a result of Zverev’s withdrawal, Nadal is now through to yet another Roland Garros final – a stage of the tournament where he has never lost in his esteemed career

The German was still able to dramatically return to the field on crutches to shake hands with the referee and formally concede. He received a deafening ovation as he waved one of his sticks at the crowd before leaving.

It seems safe to assume he won’t be at Wimbledon and the same is likely to be true for Nadal, although his representative denied that a decision has yet been made.

When the incident happened, right in front of the box where British actress Sienna Miller was sitting, it had already been more than three hours on the clock, with the match being played under the roof because of the afternoon rains in Paris.

The accompanying humidity made conditions deadly slow and the speed of the match was not helped by referee Renaud Lichtenstein who was extremely flexible with the use of the shot clock between points.

“The conditions are the slowest I’ve played in a long time,” Nadal said. “The ball was super big and hard to create spin, I couldn’t do any damage.”

While no one would have wished Zverev’s fate, he probably saved tournament organizers from further questions about the controversial schedule of this event.

Meanwhile, Zverev will be heartbroken after a great performance against Nadal

Meanwhile, Zverev will be heartbroken after a great performance against Nadal

They didn’t start the match until after three in the afternoon and at the pace before the German’s accident, it seemed possible that it could have lasted several more hours, pushing the confrontation between Ruud and Cilic even deeper into the night.

The length of the rallies between Nadal and Zverev, with both supreme opponents struggling to break into the other, contributed somewhat to that.

Zverev played to the limit, with one rally that lasted 44 strokes in a chaotic second set.

Neither player had found it easy to hold on to serve and there were five breaks from service each in a match that could have tipped either way. Djokovic, who was beaten on Tuesday, would have liked to see a doll at the Nadal that we saw in the second set.

That in contrast to the way he closed the opener, in which Nadal came back from 6-2 in the tiebreak. From 6-4, winner after winner was brushed off as he took 10-8, before the 91 minute duration took its toll on both men.

Nadal now faces Norwegian number eight in the world, Casper Ruud, who defeated Croatian veteran Marin Cilic 3-6 6-4 6-2 6-2 in a match that was briefly interrupted by a climate activist who chained himself to the net. .

The Spaniard needs no introduction to the 23-year-old, who spent time training at his academy in Mallorca as a teenager.

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