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Rafael Nadal advances to the French Open final after injured Zverev withdraws

Rafael Nadal is the  second-oldest men’s finalist in French Open history when his semifinal opponent, Alexander Zverev, was forced to withdraw due to an injury to his right leg on Friday. Now, Nadal will attempt to become the oldest champion of an event he has already won a record 13 times.

Rafael Nadal advances to the French Open final after injured Zverev withdraws

On his 36th birthday, Nadal won a tight-as-can-be, exhausting opening set that lasted 1 1/2 hours by a 7-6 (8) score. The second set was likewise heading to a tiebreaker after another 1 1/2 hours when Zverev fell behind the baseline while pursuing a ball to his forehand.

Zverev’s black suit, as well as his legs and arms, were coated in rust-colored clay, and he instantly grasped his right ankle, writhing in agony. A trainer arrived to assist him, and Nadal stepped across the net to check on Zverev as well.

After that, Zverev was wheeled off the court. Several minutes later, he returned with crutches, stating that he had to withdraw from the match. He shook the chair umpire’s hand before hugging Nadal. Nadal had been suffering from chronic discomfort in his left foot and was coming off two victories that lasted more than four hours, including one over reigning champion Novak Djokovic on Tuesday, but he exhibited no symptoms of age, injury, or exhaustion against the 25-year-old Zverev.

The game was held indoors at Court Philippe Chatrier, which has a retractable roof erected in 2020 that was closed due to afternoon rains. On top to attempting to win his 14th French Open trophy, Nadal may add his 22nd Grand Slam title to the men’s record he currently possesses following his victory at the Australian Open in January.

Djokovic and Roger Federer each have 20 points. In addition, Nadal faces No. 8 Casper Ruud of Norway or No. 20 Marin Cilic of Croatia in the final on Sunday: It would be the first time in history that a Spaniard has won the first two legs of a calendar-year Grand Slam. Cilic won the US Open in 2014; Ruud has never reached a major championship.