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Zverev’s stunning misfortune sends Rafa Nadal into French Open Tennis final against Ruud

Germany’s Alexander Zverev (C) is assisted as he lies on court after being injured during his men’s semifinal singles match against Spain’s Rafael Nadal (L) on day thirteen of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris on June 3, 2022. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP) (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

y Ricky Dimon

The 2022 French Open semifinal match between Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev felt like it would go on forever.

And then, in a flash, it was over.

Not even two sets could be completed over the course of three hours and 13 minutes, but it ended in a split second. With Nadal serving at 5-6, 40-30 in the second, he struck a down-the-line forehand that had Zverev on the run into the deuce corner. As the German tried to send a forehand back, he rolled over on his right ankle in gruesome fashion.

While they should have been starting a second consecutive tiebreaker (Nadal had taken the first one 10-8 to end an opening set that lasted one hour and 31 minutes), Zverev was writhing on the clay in agony. The 25-year-old had to be carted off the court in a wheelchair.

Inevitably, Zverev returned five minutes later only to shake hands with the chair umpire and give Nadal a hug.

“Of course it’s not easy to talk after what happened,” Nadal said during his post-match press conference. “(The) only thing that I can say is I hope he’s not too bad. Hopefully it’s just the normal thing when you turn your ankle, and hopefully [nothing is broken]. That’s what everybody hopes. I was with Sascha (in the locker room and it looks like) they need to keep checking.

“[It was] a very, very tough match. I think he started the match playing amazing. I know how much it means to him, fighting to win his first Grand Slam. We are colleagues; we have practiced together a lot of times. (To) see a colleague on the tour like this, even if for me it’s a dream to be in the final of Roland Garros, of course that way is not the way that we want it to be. [I feel] very sorry…if you are human, you should feel very sorry for a colleague.”

The manner in which it ended aside, Nadal won’t be sorry to get some unexpected rest. At 7-6(8), 6-6, it was no guarantee that the 21-time major champion was going to win the match at all. And even if he would have gone on to prevail, Nadal undoubtedly would have been pushed way past the four-hour mark.

Rafael Nadal of Spain in action at Roland Garros. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Now he heads into Sunday’s final against Casper Ruud on a full tank of gas.

But nothing about how Friday’s match ended was fortunate–not even for Nadal.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.