French Open: Zverev expects “the old Rafael Nadal”

French Open: Zverev expects “the old Rafael Nadal”

Rafael Nadal has long considered whether he is even fit enough to take part in his favourite tournament. But his opening opponent Alexander Zverev expects the record champion to be in top form.

Olympic tennis champion Alexander Zverev has reiterated that he expects Rafael Nadal to be in top form in his eagerly awaited opening match at the French Open.

“At the end of the day, he will come on the court here and he will be the old Rafael Nadal again, like he always is,” said the 27-year-old in a Eurosport interview: “In 2022, he didn’t win a tournament on clay either, came here and dominated everyone. For me, there is no question mark and I expect him to play his best tennis.”

The injury-plagued Nadal (37) has shown mixed performances since his comeback on the tour in mid-April and goes into tomorrow’s duel against the number four seeded German as an underdog. “A difficult draw for him – but also for me,” said Zverev.

Alexander Zverev is a title favorite

With his recent victory at the Masters 1000 tournament in Rome, the Hamburg native has taken on the role of title favorite at the second Grand Slam tournament of the year. He was very satisfied with his performances there, “but it’s a different story here.” Especially since the change should not be underestimated. “Everything is much slower, the balls are much slower than in Rome,” explained Zverev: “But that’s always the case here, it’s a matter of getting used to it.”

In his match against Nadal, the fans will probably cheer for the Spanish clay court king, who has already triumphed 14 times at the Stade Roland Garros. But Zverev is also hoping for support from the spectators.

“I have a great relationship with Paris, that’s also very important. The French fans are very loud. When they’re for you, it’s always much, much more pleasant than when they’re against you,” said Zverev, who has recently reached the semifinals of the clay court classic three times in a row. In 2022, he had to retire in the semifinals against Nadal due to a serious foot injury.

Source: Stern

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