Rafa says goodbye to the French Open, perhaps for the last time

Henry

There were cries of “Rafa, Rafa”, good backhands, excellent work near the net and the usual clenched fist celebrations.

But in the end it was not enough and Rafael Nadal was eliminated in his opening match of the French Open.

The 14-time champion lost to Alexander Zverev 6-3, 7-6 and 6-3. It was possibly his last performance at Roland-Garros.

“If this was my last French Open match – I’m not 100% sure yet – then I really enjoyed it. The spectators were amazing and they carried me during the training sessions and the match,” said Nadal.

“It’s hard to describe my feelings, but it’s special to feel your tangible support on the courses I love the most.”

The Spaniard, who will soon celebrate his 38th birthday, has been struggling with injuries that have kept him away from the track for the past two years.

He admits that a match against Zverev – one of the top players in the ATP rankings – might have been just too much of a challenge.

“It was my dream to play at Roland-Garros again. Yes, I had opportunities now, but it wasn’t enough against a very good player like Sascha (Zverev).”

Nadal left his mark on the match especially in the second set and he was able to stand his ground in the volleys of shots, but Zverev was simply more fit for the match.

According to Nadal, his recovery process can be compared to a journey through a jungle.

“One does not know what to expect. One morning you wake up with a snake biting you, the next day a tiger smiles at you again. I had to fight hard, but these days I feel more positive.”

The fire of ambition also still burns brightly.

“I hope to be back on the track again for the Olympics. It motivates me to keep going. This is another opportunity on my way and I hope to prepare well for it.”