The highest hurdle in the world of tennis: Zverev in Paris against Nadal RIYADH

PARIS – Against Rafael Nadal in Paris – Tennis will not be difficult. Alexander Zverev knew this before the tournament.

“There is something about this place that makes him play 30 per cent better. Just by being on the pitch,” Zverev said of the Spaniard and his relationship with Stade Philippe Chatrier. Nadal won an astonishing 13 titles at Roland Garros, his record: 110 wins, three Defeats “He went down to the field and suddenly my forehand was 20 km/h faster, moving as lightly as a feather,” Zverev said. “There is no greater mission than against Rafa at Court Philippe Chatrier.”

The same processes always give security to Zverev

Zverev faces this daunting task on Friday. In the first semi-final of the French Open (2.45pm/Eurosport), the Olympic champion will compete with the best clay court player in history. After tennis prodigy Carlos Alcaraz in the quarter-finals, now the king of Paris. “It won’t get any easier,” Zverev said with a smile.

But there was no sign of nervousness or even fear in Zverev before the match. Calm and peace, the German top seed prepared for his second consecutive Paris semi-final. On Wednesday, he worked himself again at the Jan Bowen training ground, having booked the pitch with his team for three hours.

On Thursday there was a slightly looser 90-minute session. Wearing the light blue jersey, Zverev hit a few balls over the net as teammate Michael Ledovcic hit 25th, and was noticed by coach Sergei Bruguera and father Alexander Senior. Buddy Marcelo Melo and Physio Hugo Gravil made some jokes, at first it was quiet. Previously, Nadal easily coped with the 26th pitch.

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The rest is in Zverev: routine. Same food, same game, same people around us. “He’s someone who sticks very tightly to his operations,” said Misha Zverev, who accompanies his brother’s appearance as a TV expert at Eurosport.

The same processes always give Zverev security. In addition, there is the role of the underdog, which seems to suit him well. Prior to the tournament, no one talked about the world number three when it came to predicting the semi-finalists at the French Open. Everyone was talking about Novak Djokovic’s return to the Grand Slam after missing the Australian Open, about 19-year-old Alcaraz and, of course, about Nadal.

Nadal’s burden of chronic foot pain

After all, it could be the last French Open for Paris, darling Nadal kept saying that during the tournament. Chronic pain in his foot is a huge burden for him, and, according to his own statements, he can bypass the championship only with the help of constant support from his personal doctor. It cannot be ruled out that it is Zverev who ends Nadal’s wonderful relationship with Paris and perhaps even his career. If he wins over 35 years.

But Nadal, who will turn 36 on Friday, tried to calm down. “It was not my intention to make it look like a farewell,” the Mallorcan Islands said on Spanish television. “I still have hope that we can find a solution to the problems.”

Zverev himself is trying to hide it. Before the Australian Open in January, he put a lot of pressure on himself. The first Grand Slam title, number one in the world – all this weighed heavily on him, in the round of 16 it ended against Canadian Denis Shapovalov. The same is now at stake in Paris. Zverev could once again fulfill his dream of capturing the first Grand Slam titles of his career, and the 25-year-old could climb to the top of the rankings once again. The difference from Melbourne: Zverev doesn’t let the topics outperform everything else this time around.

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Of course he knows the opportunities. “I am at an age and at a point in my career where I want to win, where I have to win,” Zverev said. But at Bois de Boulogne, he sees the great challenge as more of an incentive than a burden. Similarly, he was the first German since Boris Becker in 1991 to be number one. His brother believes he is capable of both. “I think this is the moment when he can do that,” Misha Zverev said in an interview with Sports Illustrated.

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