Maximilian Marterer, 26, is a former top-50 player. The German hasn't been able to repeat those results in the past two years, not returning to the top-150 or scoring an ATP since Kitzbuhel 2020. Marterer has posted six major wins.
so far, with three of them coming at Roland Garros 2018, when he reached the fourth round to set up the matchup against legend Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard needed two and a half hours to beat the German 6-3 6-2 7-6, struggling in the third set before sealing the deal in a tie-break.
Ranked 214th, Marterer made it through three qualifying rounds in Paris last year to return to the main draw. The German played well in the second and third rounds, and watched the highlights of his match against Rafa to build confidence and momentum.
In that 2018 clash, Nadal broke Marterer five times and suffered two breaks to seal the deal in straight sets and advance to the quarterfinals. Also, it was his 900th ATP victory. Rafa finished the match with 37 winners and 28 unforced errors, while Marterer had 24 winners and 32 errors.
The lower ranked player did his best to impose his shots and take the defending champion out of his comfort zone. The youngster opened the match with a break, and Nadal recovered it in the fourth game to level the score at 2-2.
Maximilian had two more break chances in the next game, but Rafa fended them off and broke a few minutes later for a 4-2 lead. Two solid serves propelled Rafa over the finish line in game nine, and he carried that pace into the second set.
Nadal gave up five points in four service games and scored breaks in the first and seventh games for a dominant 6-2 run. The final set was a close battle that lasted 70 minutes as they traded breaks in games four and five to reach a tie break.
Rafa won 7-4 to avoid further difficulties and secure a spot in the round of 16.
Mauresmo on Rafa Nadal
Rafael Nadal has had a lackluster claycourt season leading up to the French Open. "I followed what Rafa experienced in Rome.
And he knows himself better than anyone. It's an injury that he's been living with for years. So, of course, there's a concern for him first because we know how important coming to Roland-Garros is to him and it's probably shaped all of that, all of his legend, in a way," Mauresmo said.
"So we're following it. I would say carefully, but there's nothing we can do. We're just obviously all crossing our fingers to get the best players in the draw," she added. "Then, what would it mean if he were to eventually not play in the tournament? Obviously, he would be a miss."