Asked to predict the Roland Garros finalists, Eurosport analyst Mischa Zverev had no doubts, saying it will be a battle between his brother Alexander and Rafael Nadal! Mischa revealed his prediction ahead of the event, and he could have been wrong right from the start, as his brother barely passed the first obstacle in Paris on Sunday!
Alexander faced a qualifier Oscar Otte in the first round and prevailed 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 after two hours and 49 minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen. With no room for errors after a slow start, world no. 6 claimed 18 of the last 22 games to turn the tables and sail into the second round.
Alexander is now 16-7 in five-setters in a career and 7-0 at Roland Garros, staying composed and believing in his abilities despite a challenging situation. Zverev scored only one break in the opening two sets and struggled to find the rhythm before finding his strokes in the rest of the encounter and avoiding Dominic Thiem's fate.
Alexander lost serve four times and produced eight breaks, firing 50 winners and 32 unforced errors to leave the rival behind and make a winning start. Nadal will face Alexei Popyrin in his first match on Tuesday, facing a tricky draw en route to his 14th Roland Garros crown and the record-breaking 21st Major.
Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev could meet in the final in Paris in two weeks.
Nadal played twice against Zverev this spring, losing in Madrid and beating him in Rome to end a three-match losing streak against the German.
At Caja Magica, Alexander toppled Rafa 6-4, 6-4, trailing 4-2 in the opener before shifting into a higher gear and controlling the pace in the rest of the clash. A week later in Rome, Nadal earned a 6-3, 6-4 triumph in two hours to remain on the title course.
Alexander created ten break chances and converted only one to spoil his chances for a more favorable result. On the other hand, Nadal seized three break chances to seal the deal in straight sets and avoid another epic clash like a day before against Denis Shapovalov when he saved two match points.
Rafa has won six out of nine matches against Alexander, and if they meet in the title clash, it will be their first Major encounter since the Australian Open 2017, when the Spaniard prevailed in five sets.