Rafael Nadal continues to play down hopes of French Open title No 14 amid foot problems despite stunning victory over Novak Djokovic… with Alexander Zverev up next in the semi-finals
- Rafael Nadal produced some of his best tennis to see off Novak Djokovic in Paris
- He has advanced to yet another French Open semi-final after the four-set win
- The Spaniard admitted his future is uncertain due to a persistent foot injury
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had not been finished many hours when French Open tournament director Amelie Mauresmo addressed the elephant in the room.
In the wake of their early hours drama, she was asked why men had been selected to play nine out of the 10 matches in the new night session at Roland Garros.
Her reply was surprisingly frank: ‘In this era that we are in right now, I don’t feel — and as a woman, a former woman’s player, I don’t feel bad or unfair saying — that right now you have more attraction, can you say that, appeal? That’s the general(ity), for the men’s matches,’ she said.
Rafael Nadal has admitted this could be his final appearance at the French Open
Nadal versus Djokovic was an extreme example of her point and they put on a superb show for those who stayed on until its 1.15am finish in frigid temperatures.
This was no ordinary match-up and it was no surprise that host daytime broadcasters France TV were furious it was the one contest given to Amazon Prime.
Nonetheless the words of the 2006 Wimbledon women’s champion will be bruising to the WTA Tour, even if its players will be happy to have escaped the conditions that have accompanied these late night offerings.
The Spanish legend came through to beat Novak Djokovic in four sets on Tuesday
Nadal will now meet Alex Zverev in Friday’s semi-finals after yet another physical revival.
Less than three weeks after almost limping out of the Italian Open, the Spaniard has not missed the chance to talk down his chances in Paris due to a recurrence of the bone problems in his left foot.
Nobody is more skilled at playing down expectations than Nadal, only to appear at the end of the tournament holding the trophy.
Djokovic has been around too long to be anything other than sceptical. Asked whether his physical level over a four-hour, 12-minute encounter came as a shock he said: ‘I’m not surprised at all. It’s not the first time he is able to, a few days after he’s injured and barely walking, come out 100% physically fit. He’s done it many times in his career.’
Nadal has a chronic foot issue and there is no effective medical solution at present
Djokovic should recognise this trait, as he has made a few spectacular recoveries in his time, although these usually come mid-match, when he can appear injured and then restart moving like a gazelle. They at least agreed that their match started too late.
Nadal has gone as far as talking about this being his last Roland Garros due to his body being increasingly unco-operative. There are those who feel that this time he is not kidding.
Minimally, there were definitely hints that he may skip Wimbledon when he talked afterwards. ‘I’m going be playing this tournament because we are doing the things to be ready to play this tournament, but I don’t know what’s going to happen after here,’ he said, adding he had brought a doctor with him.
Nadal has won the French Open 13 times and is the best clay court player in history
‘I mean, I have what I have there in the foot, so if we are not able to find an improvement or a small solution on that, then it’s becoming super difficult for me.’
Iga Swiatek recorded her 33rd straight victory to keep on track for a second French Open title. The 21 year-old Pole will face Russia’s Daria Kasatkina in today’s semi-finals after defeating American Jessica Pegula 6-3 6-2.
Coco Gauff will attempt to reach her first Grand Slam final aged just 18 when she plays world No 59 Martina Trevisan of Italy.
Norway’s Casper Ruud was last night playing Denmark’s Holger Rune in an all-Scandanavian men’s quarter-final.