Rafael Nadal Will Make His Debut Through the Most Difficult Route at Roland Garros: Zverev in Sight

It has been a long time since the draw of a great draw has aroused as much expectation as this Roland Garros, which will begin without skimping, in a big way, with a huge amount of dynamite on the court. It was assumed that Rafael Nadal, absent last year and today without the halo of protection that the ranking granted him at other times, could hit a nerve at the first opportunity because reality offered no escape for that first round; However, not only was there no luck for him, but the draw provided one of the harshest scenarios that could be configured, at least on paper. To begin with, the Spanish tennis player, who will turn 38 on June 3 and faces the final stretch of his career after 23 seasons in the professional elite, will meet the German Alexander Zverev, one of the fittest players on the circuit and recent champion of the Rome Masters 1000.

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In the midst of a present full of doubts, with Novak Djokovic hesitant, Carlos Alcaraz between cottons, and Jannik Sinner also trying to get back on track, Zverev emerges as one of the most fearsome adversaries both for the performance offered in recent dates, as well as for his remarkable progression on clay. Installed on the fourth rung of the world list, the 27-year-old from Hamburg has landed in Paris presenting his candidacy, after having recently offered an exhibition in Rome. At the Foro Italico, where the playing conditions are probably the most similar to Roland Garros, he conceded only one set before winning the sixth Masters 1000 of his career — the 22nd trophy of his career — and thus positioning himself for the major. French.

To begin with, therefore, a final for Nadal, who can at least find solace in the hint of the draw for the next two seasons; If he manages to get around the German, he would run into much friendlier theoretical rivals, such as David Goffin (115th) and Tallon Griekspoor (27th). Of course, in the round of 16, he would tilt the field again with the threats of Holger Rune or Karen Khachanov, and in the quarterfinals, Daniil Medvedev or the dynamic Alex de Miñaur could appear. Already in the semifinals, fireworks, as long as the doubtful Djokovic managed to straighten out and progress, and in a hypothetical final – taking into account the bells that big tournaments always bring – perhaps he would meet Alcaraz or Sinner. Incidentally, neither the Spanish (three in the world) nor the Italian (two) are anything to write home about.

Nadal arrived in Paris on Monday and since then he has increased the tone and volume of his training. After a trial on the first day, in front of about 4,000 fans, he has been playing with top tennis players such as Medvedev, Rune, Sebastian Korda, and Stanislas Wawrinka with the aim of being able to compete at a higher level than that offered a couple of weeks before at the Foro Italico. , where he lost against Hubert Hurkacz (9th) in the second appearance; Against the Pole he lacked spark and success, just like in the previous round against Zizou Bergs. The Mallorcan, therefore, must take a considerable leap to be able to transfer the good feelings from the rehearsals to the matches, but the horizon drawn by this Thursday’s draw poses a very dangerous situation. Filming will continue for the next three days, and on Monday or Tuesday, it will premiere against Zverev.

Immersed in a happy sporting moment, the German faces the tournament in the middle of a difficult personal circumstance, knowing that on the 31st he will have to testify before the Berlin court for an alleged case of abuse by his ex-partner. The giant (1.98) and Nadal have met ten times, with a balance of 7-3 favorable to Manacor; Precisely, the last of them corresponds to the fight two years ago in the Chatrier, where Zverev had to abandon after suffering a serious ankle injury, when he had lost the first round but the match was very close: 7-6(8) and 6-6 (3h 13m).

Fortune, therefore, has not been allied with Nadal in his takeoff, while Carlos Alcaraz, the other great Spanish asset, sees an a priori more placid start. The 21-year-old from Murcia continues to pamper his right forearm—injured since the beginning of April, the “pronator teres” muscle—and is rushing these last few days to get in shape; He had to give up Rome and previously Monte Carlo and Barcelona, ​​so he could only play in Madrid, where he intervened due to discomfort. A semi-finalist last year in Paris, he will face a rival from the previous phase in the opening round and then he could run into the Englishman Jack Draper, the American Korda – his executioner two years ago in the Principality –, the gunner Ben Shelton in the round of 16 and Andrey Rublev in the quarters. If he prospers, Sinner could be unavoidable before a final episode on June 9.

In the women’s draw, the first Spanish representative, Sara Sorribes (46th), will face the Romanian Bianca Andreescu (234th), while Cristina Bucsa (72nd) will face a rival from the previous phase, like Jessica Bouzas, who has entered the final painting of the great Parisian for the first time; Rebeka Masarova (94th) will face a tough match with Marketa Vondrousova (6th), finalist in 2019, and Paula Badosa (140th) will meet the British Katie Boulter (28th). The Catalan will try to maintain the good tone recently offered in Rome, although the third round would already hold a potential duel with the number two, the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka.

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