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2024 05 27T131958Z 1995184289 UP1EK5R1118JC RTRMADP 3 TENNIS FRENCHOPEN

French Open LIVE: Rafael Nadal vs Alexander Zverev latest score and updates

Nadal returns to Roland Garros to practice amid doubts over fitness and form

Rafael Nadal faces Alexander Zverev in a blockbuster French Open first-round clash, in what could be the record 14-time champion’s final match at Roland Garros. The Spaniard, 37, says this year’s tournament may not be his last in Paris, forcing any planned farewell ceremonies to be postponed, but has admitted there is a “big, big chance” he is playing at the French Open for the final time.

Nadal has dominated the French Open since winning the tournament on his debut in 2005, winning a stunning 112 matches while only losing three times. The ‘King of Clay’ was unseeded after returning from injury and was handed a brutal first-round match against the German fourth seed Zverev, who broke his ankle during a close semi-final clash against Nadal the 2022 semi-finals.

Elsewhere in Paris, defending champion Iga Swiatek got her tournament defence underway with a straight-sets win over French qualifier Leolia Jeanjean, setting up a sensational clash with Naomi Osaka, while Jannik Sinner and Ons Jabeur also cruised into the second round.

Later, Cameron Norrie will hope to advance after defeats for Andy Murray and Jack Draper on the opening day yesterday. Follow live scores and updates from the French Open in today’s live blog

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French Open LIVE: Rafael Nadal vs Alexander Zverev latest score

A super game from Nadal with a trademark forehand winner followed by an aggressive serve and volley play. He holds to love. The challenge now will be how to play like that against the Zverev serve and power game from the baseline, which is directing the early exchanges so far.

Jamie Braidwood27 May 2024 14:47

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French Open LIVE: Rafael Nadal vs Alexander Zverev latest score

Now then. Quick hands from Nadal at the net as the Spaniard steers a volley into the open court. Then Zverev makes two big misses in a row, pushing a forehand long from midcourt and then dumping a backhand into the net.

Two break points… Nadal groans as a crosscourt forehand drifts long. Zverev finds a big first serve and then the ball sits up nicely for the big forehand strike past Nadal in to the corner. Two break points saved.

And that’s a good hold. After a couple of bad misses, Zverev recovers to take charge. He is able to step into the court and is taking his pick when it comes to powering the winners past Nadal.

(REUTERS)

Jamie Braidwood27 May 2024 14:41

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French Open LIVE: Rafael Nadal vs Alexander Zverev latest score

There are certainly a few grunts from Nadal now, and cheers as the Spaniard gets on the board! Nadal dug himself out of a hole after a couple of backhands drifted wide. But he then outlasted Zverev in the baseline exchange, with the German putting a backhand into the net.

A steely look from Nadal as he makes his way back to his chair at the changeover.

Jamie Braidwood27 May 2024 14:36

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Guess which side the crowd are on?!

Kieran Jackson at Roland Garros

Hell of an atmosphere inside Court Philippe-Chatrier, but Zverev quickly dampens the mood of the pro-Rafa crowd with a break of serve… to love.

First thing of note is, while you can hear the exertion in every Zverev shot, no sign of the trademark Nadal grunt as of yet.

Building his way into it? We all hope so…

Kieran Jackson27 May 2024 14:33

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French Open LIVE: Rafael Nadal vs Alexander Zverev latest score

Philippe-Chatrier erupts as Zverev double faults to give Nadal a look at 0-30. But the German then steps up the power, landing a series of heavy blows that push Nadal back behind the baseline.

Within a flash, Zverev gets the hold. Nadal’s movement is going to be put to the test today. Zverev is dictating the opening exchanges.

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(REUTERS)

Jamie Braidwood27 May 2024 14:30

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French Open LIVE: Rafael Nadal vs Alexander Zverev latest score

Nadal 0-1 Zverev* – Zverev breaks

Not the start the fans wanted. A lengthy opening rally from the baseline goes Zverev’s way as Nadal puts a drop shot in the net. Zverev then powers a winner past Nadal, before a double fault from the Spaniard sets up three break points. Zverev, pushing Nadal around the baseline, then gets the break as Nadal puts a backhand into the net.

Jamie Braidwood27 May 2024 14:26

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French Open LIVE: Rafael Nadal vs Alexander Zverev latest score

Here we go. To many, the French Open IS Rafael Nadal. For almost two decades, the 14-time champion has dominated this tournament in a manner that is unparalleled in sport.

This could be it. It’s not the draw Nadal wanted, but it’s a special afternoon in Paris. Court Philippe-Chatrier is ready. Can the King of Clay add a victory that would stand with some of his greatest ever recorded here?

The 37-year-old will serve first.

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(REUTERS)

Jamie Braidwood27 May 2024 14:21

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French Open LIVE: Rafael Nadal vs Alexander Zverev latest score

Marc Maury, the voice of Roland Garros, reads out Nadal’s list of 14 French Open titles and the Spaniard is given a standing ovation as he returns to Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Goosebumps. This feels like a final. An electric atmosphere awaits under the roof.

Nadal, like a coiled spring, sprints to the baseline after the coin toss.

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(Getty Images)

Jamie Braidwood27 May 2024 14:13

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French Open LIVE: Rafael Nadal vs Alexander Zverev latest score

Nadal is in the tunnel, jumping around, ready to get into the ring. The Spaniard’s trademark shadow boxing before entering the court adds to his aura here. He’s standing ahead of Zverev, who has to watch Nadal come out… He’s going to be the first out.

This is going to be a special entrance…

Jamie Braidwood27 May 2024 14:12

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Rafael Nadal vs Alexander Zverev: The backstory behind blockbuster French Open clash

Rafael Nadal will require every ounce of his aura at the French Open when he faces the fourth seed Alexander Zverev in the opening round.

It is a truly unbelievable draw and there were audible gasps during the ceremony when Nadal’s name was pulled out of the hat next to Zverev’s: it is staggeringly early in a grand slam for such a heavyweight contest, to add to what was an important day for the Spaniard anyway.

Zverev is arguably the favourite for the fortnight given the uncertainty around the other top seeds: defending champion Novak Djokovic has not won a title this season and is openly admitting to being “worried” about his form, while Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner have had their preparations disrupted by injury.

Zverev, meanwhile, won the title in Rome and has a good record at Roland Garros with three appearances in semi-finals.

That perhaps his most significant came against Nadal adds another layer to the blockbuster.

Zverev was in a position to become only the third man in French Open history to beat Nadal at the French Open after splitting two gruelling sets in the 2022 semi-final, only to break his ankle in a freak injury that saw the German leave the court on crutches.

The 27-year-old has spent much of the two years since rebuilding his form and confidence, as well as facing allegations of domestic abuse from a former girlfriend. Zverev was served a fixed penalty order from a Berlin court last November and his trial is set to begin during the French Open. Zverev denies the allegations and does not have to attend the trial in person.

Zverev insists the looming trial date is not on his mind and points to his Italian Open title as evidence of that. “Of course on paper, it’s not the best draw,” Nadal said, while Zverev talked up the historical challenge he is about to face.

“In my mind, I’m going to play peak Nadal,” Zverev said. “That’s what I expect him to be. I expect him to be at his absolute best. I expect him to play the best tennis he’s played in a long time on this court.”

Nadal and Zverev met in the 2022 semi-finals, with the German breaking his ankle
Nadal and Zverev met in the 2022 semi-finals, with the German breaking his ankle (AP)

Jamie Braidwood27 May 2024 14:08

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