Rafael Nadal: 'We have some help'
by SIMONE BRUGNOLI | VIEW 3961
Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic to reach the Roland Garros semifinal. Rafa faced Alexander Zverev in the fight for the final and experienced one of the toughest challenges of his career in Paris. They were neck-and-neck for three hours and three minutes before Alexander sustained a horrific right ankle injury on the slow, muddy clay.
The German left the track in a wheelchair and returned a few minutes later to announce his withdrawal. It could have been one of the most entertaining matches in Roland Garros history, with Nadal winning 7-6 and 6-6 before Zverev picked up an injury.
It was one of the most difficult matches for Rafa in Paris, and he had to work hard to get a positive score after three hours of play. The 13-time winner survived four set points in the first set and came from 5-3 down in the second to force another tie-break before Alexander ended the match in the worst way.
It was an incredible battle under the roof of the Philippe-Chatrier court, in which both tried to impose their shots and raise the level in difficult conditions. Two sets distributed almost 200 points, and Rafa only took four more than Alexander.
The Spaniard had the advantage in the shorter range up to four shots, and the German erased that disadvantage in the midrange and more advanced rallies. Both players claimed five breaks and grabbed almost half of the return points on a slow court.
Zverev was a more aggressive player, giving his 100% to keep in touch with a 21-time Major winner and carve out the lead in both sets.
Nadal will begin the 2023 season in Australia
Rafael Nadal was asked about how he was adapting to the tour as a new father, something he found amusing.
"The first event I play like a father without the baby with me, I lost first round. Second event, traveling with the baby, I was out of the group stage. At the end I won my last match, but I need to keep improving, no?" Nadal said.
"We have some help. No problem at all. Just I need to organize little bit my life, as everybody needs to do when you have a child in your life. Excited to be in Australia one more time. Hope to be ready to enjoy our month here in Australia," he said.
"Excited to play this competition for the first time. Then let's see. We are focused now on this event. Let's try our best and let's see how far we can go."