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Clay king bows out

Updated on: 28 May,2024 07:47 AM IST  |  Paris

Fourteen-time champion Rafael Nadal suffers maiden opening-round defeat at Roland Garros; goes down 3-6, 6-7, 3-6 to Germany’s Alexander Zverev

Clay king bows out

Spain’s Rafael Nadal during his first-round defeat to Germany’s Alexander Zverev at the French Open in Paris yesterday. Pic/AFP

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Clay king bows out

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 to Alexander Zverev. Nadal, who turns 38 on June 3, went down 3-6, 6-7 (5-7), 3-6 to World No. 4 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. “I don’t know if this is the last time I’ll be here, I’m not 100% sure. but if it is then I wanted to enjoy it. The feelings today are difficult to describe in words,” said Nadal. Nadal was broken to love in his opening service game and left to regret his inability to convert two break points in the fourth game. He saved two set points in the ninth game but surrendered the opener after 50 minutes when he hit a loose forehand into the net. 

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Nadal then broke for the first time to lead 3-2 in the second set, but couldn’t back up the advantage and handed the break 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, broke and held for 2-0 in the third set. However, the hardworking Zverev again roared back to level at 2-2 before going on to win.

Feels like home here: Swiatek after Rd-1 win

Iga Swiatek began her bid for a third consecutive French Open title with a straightforward 6-1, 6-2 win over Leolia Jeanjean on Monday, stretching her winning streak to 13 matches. World No. 1 Swiatek said: “It feels like home here. I’m really happy to be back. Just feel like I can play really good tennis, so hopefully I’’ll be here as long as possible.”

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