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Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev had laid the groundwork for what promised to be a draining, epic semi-final of the 2022 French Open in Paris on Friday afternoon. With the match already at three hours and with the second set yet to be concluded, the German twisted his ankle and had to leave the court in a wheelchair. Stream the 2022 French Open live and on-demand on discovery+.

Rafael Nadal beat Alexander Zverev 7-6(2) 6-6 when the German had to retire hurt towards the end of the second set in their French Open semi-final.

Nadal had reached the semi-final stage with a draining four-set win over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, with a couple of days’ rest useful as he dealt with a foot problem which he had suggested may curtail his involvement in other tournaments this season.

Zverev meanwhile had also needed four sets to progress from his quarter-final as he defeated burgeoning star Carlos Alcaraz.

In the first set both players had their moments in the ascendancy, with the two of them breaking the other. With the scores at 5-5, the German appeared to have a chance to break for the second time before Nadal held on – as the players took a break, the Spaniard received cautionary words about the speed of his service game.

It took a full hour and a quarter before the pair moved onto the tie-break. Zverev appeared to be in control at 6-4 up as he sent Nadal deep and wide, but the veteran recovered and returned an astonishing effort to leave him 6-5 down, holding on, and a drop-shot then brought the crowd to its feet when Zverev flicked a return out of play. After saving four set points, Nadal went 1-0 up.

The No. 3 seed stayed in the match by holding his serve after the restart but then was broken to go 2-1 down, before hitting back to keep the pressure on, and moved 5-3 ahead before Zverev hit a seventh double fault to betray his nerves, and the birthday boy rallied to 5-5.

With the second set closing on another tie-break, Zverev appeared to twist his ankle, and had to hobble into a wheelchair to a standing ovation, with the crowd applauding him for his efforts. The German returned a while later on crutches to shake hands with Nadal, acknowledging the crowd as he left the court.

The abrupt ending left Nadal waiting for the winner of Casper Ruud and Marin Cilic for Sunday’s final.
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