Rafael Nadal looked in no position to put up a real fight to win his 14th Roland Garros title this year. The Spaniard’s chronic foot injury resurfaced during his round 16 encounters against Denis Shapovalov in Rome. The Canadian tennis player beat Nadal in three sets to knock him out of the Italian Open.
The 21-time world champ was devastated by the injury. He played just two tournaments after returning from a rib stress fracture and then injured himself again. Rafa even hinted toward retirement as he revealed how painful it was to live and play with an injury that has lasted the course of his tennis career.
However, Nadal shocked all his critics who underestimated the Spaniard’s fighting spirit by emerging as the favorite to win this year’s French Open title. On Tuesday, Rafael Nadal pulled off a stunner against Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals. The Spaniard emerged as the victor during the four-set encounter as he put a marvelous showcase of his work rate and defense. Nole was forced to make consistent errors as he lost his 5-2 lead in the fourth set, sealing a semi-finals entry for Nadal.
Surprisingly, Rafa has shown no signs of injury or tiredness after playing two back-to-back games that lasted more than four hours. Before meeting Djokovic in the quarterfinals, Nadal defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime during a five-set match in round four. Rafael will now have to defeat Alexander Zverev on his 36th birthday on Friday to enter the finals. With this, he will get one more step closer to his 14th French Open and 22nd Grand Slam title.
Nadal The Favorite To Win In Paris After Djokovic And Alcaraz’s Exit
Rafa will face Zverev, who pulled off a great upset for the sensational teenager Carlos Alcaraz in the fourth round, knocking him out of the tournament. The 19-year-old beat Nadal and Djokovic back-to-back and won the Madrid Open title a few weeks ago. Thus, with Nole and Alcaraz out of the tournament, Rafael Nadal has a real chance of getting past Zverev and winning another title in Paris. Rafa has beaten the German tennis star four times in their five encounters on clay. Therefore, the Spaniard would fancy his chances after playing an immaculate level of tennis to beat Djokovic.
Moreover, if Nadal wins over Zverev and reaches the final, he will face an opponent from a lower draw. This is because the 2022 French Open has seen some shocking upsets so far. The world no. 2 Daniil Medvedev and world no. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas are already out in the fourth round.
So, if Nadal makes it to the final, he will face someone from Andrey Rublev, Holger Rune, Marin Cilic, and Casper Ruud. However, only Cilic is the one who has ever been a part of a Grand Slam final. Moreover, only Djokovic and Robin Soderling have defeated Nadal at the Roland Garros in his 17 appearances in the tournament. Thus, Rafael Nadal has a real chance of winning yet again in Paris after last year’s upset to claim his 14th major title on clay.