(June 3, 2022)
Rafael Nadal will be trying to win his 14th French Open title when he plays Casper Ruud on Sunday. Nadal advanced to the final on Friday after No. 3 Alexander Zverev retired after falling on a point and injuring his right ankle and could not continue.
The match which was at 5-6 in the second set was a the three-hour 15-minute mark when the German was running to get to a ball, fell and began screaming, grabbing his lower right leg.
The 25-year-old German was taken off the court in a wheelchair, with a trainer attending him. Zverev came back out several minutes later on crutches officially retiring from the match, shaking the chair umpire’s hand and hugging Nadal.
Nadal was leading 7-6 (8), 6-6 at the time. The Spaniard rallied from a break down in the first set, surviving four set points in the tiebreak where Zverev had a 6-2 lead.
The fifth seed Nadal will be trying to add to his major title haul to 22 on Sunday.
“It has been a super tough match, over three hours and we didn’t even finish the second set,” Nadal said.
“It’s one of the biggest challenges on the Tour today when he’s playing at this super-high level, to play against him,” Nadal added. “Difficult to say a lot of things today, the situation. Of course for me, as everyone knows, to be in the final of Roland Garros for another time is a dream, without a doubt.
“But at same time, to finish that way… I have been there in the small room with Sascha before we came back on court, and to see him crying there is a very tough moment, so all the best to him.”
Casper Ruud is the first Norwegian man to reach a major singles final. The 23-year-old beat the 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in the second semifinal.
The eighth-seeded Ruud, whose father Christian was a professional player for 10 years is now past the round of 16 at a major for the first time.
In the third set at 4-1 Ruud, play was interrupted by a climate activist wearing a T-shirt with the message “We have 1028 days left.” She attached herself to the net and knelled on the court.
Play was halted for more than 10 minutes as the players were taken off court by security until the woman could be removed.
“It is amazing. He is the last player of the Big 3 and the very top players in the world I have never played against,” Ruud said of Nadal during his on-court interview. “So I guess this is perfect timing and worth the wait. To finally play him in a Grand Slam final will be a special moment for me. Hopefully a little bit for him as well.
“He has played so many finals, but at least he is playing a student from his academy this time. So it is going to be a fun one hopefully.”
Ruud said: “I didn’t start the greatest, but Marin also played well in the first set. I was too defensive and then I was able to break him in the second set and that got me going again. From that break I played some of my best tennis this year. Serving well, playing aggressive, So I am super happy with my performance today.”
Ruud who practices at the Rafael Nadal Academy will be playing Nadal for the first time in the final on Sunday.