John McEnroe rips French Open over Rafael Nadal decision that led to horror draw

McEnroe addresses Nadal having to play Alexander Zverev in the French Open first round.

by Dzevad Mesic
John McEnroe rips French Open over Rafael Nadal decision that led to horror draw
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

John McEnroe didn't hold back on the French Open after learning about the Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev matchup as the American tennis icon says it is "crazy" that the tournament didn't give the Spaniard a seeding. 

Nadal, a record 14-time French Open champion, is set to have one of the most difficult Roland Garros openers he could have imagined as today he will be taking on No. 4 seed and last week's Rome champion Alexander Zverev. 

Nadal, who is currently ranked at No. 275 in the world, was out for a year and he returned with a protected ranking of No. 9, which he has been using to enter tournaments directly. But while Nadal used a strong protected ranking to enter the French Open directly, he didn't receive a seeding - which left him in danger of drawing a big-time player - and exactly that happened. 

A month ago in Barcelona, Nadal also used a protected ranking to enter the tournament and he received the No. 9 seeding at the Spanish ATP 500 tournament. 

“It makes no sense that someone who has won 14 times is not seeded. It is the way the tournament has always acted. For me it is crazy,” the American told the media, as quoted by Marca.

“It is the most interesting first round of a Major that I remember and the most tough [in the] Open Era for someone like Nadal.”

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

McEnroe on the challenges Nadal may face over facing Zverev early

Leading up to the French Open, Nadal took part in three tournaments and played a total of eight matches - in which he went 5-3. But since Nadal was evidently far from his best game and physically-wise, the hope was that the Spaniard could get an easy French Open draw and then build up his form before potentially taking on a star player. 

Now, McEnroe fears how Nadal's body would look in the remainder of the tournament even if he managed to survive a tough Zverev test.

“He has to do whatever he wants. He loves to compete and if he loses to Zverev it does not mean that all his records at Roland Garros will be lost. Maybe his time has come to be a father and everyone’s time has come," McEnroe added. 

“Maybe I’m wrong and he’ll be able to do something special here. It’s a question mark as to how his body will recover as the rounds go by.

“On the one hand it will be a surprise, and on the other it won’t. People like him, Novak or Roger are Superman.”

Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev
Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

When it comes to Zverev, McEnroe believes this is a great chance for the German to kick off his French Open campaign in style and ultimately become a Grand Slam champion.

“[Zverev] has a real chance of winning in Paris if he focuses solely and exclusively on tennis and not on other things off the court. I believe that the 2020 US Open should have been his. Sascha’s serve is working better than ever,” McEnroe added.

What Nadal and Zverev said about facing each other?

In his pre-match press conference, Nadal honestly admitted that facing Zverev so early in the tournament wasn't something he wanted. But Nadal noted that complaining about it won't get him anywhere and that he just needs to try to focus on preparing for the match as best as he can.

"It's not ideal the first match, because I feel competitive to have this match later in the tournament, but it's how it is. I need to be ready since the beginning. Let's see," Nadal noted.

On the other side, Zverev made a great revelation when he shared that he thought someone was joking him when told that he was drawn to face Nadal in the French Open first round.

Then, Zverev proceeded to highlight that one of his big wishes was to play Nadal again at the French Open because he felt that way it could help him mentally overcome what happened two years ago when he suffered a horror ankle injury during their semifinal at Roland Garros.

"I was on court with [Andrey] Rublev yesterday on Chatrier practicing, and then after the practice was over, which was actually a great practice, my brother told me," Zverev said.

"I actually thought he was joking in the beginning. But then, yeah, it is what it is. I mean, obviously, to be very honest, I wanted to play Rafa again in my career, in his career, because I didn't want my last memory of me playing against Rafa to be me leaving the court in a wheelchair."

Alexander Zverev
Alexander Zverev © Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

After acknowledging his goal was to play at the French Open, Zverev also admitted that he would have still preferred it to have come later in the tournament. 

Going into the match, Nadal owns a 7-3 head-to-head versus Zverev.

John Mcenroe Rafael Nadal Alexander Zverev