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‘Unexpected level’ – Nadal on his performance after beating Djokovic

Follow for live updates as Rafael Nadal takes on Alexander Zverev for a place in the French Open final on what is set to be another blockbuster day of action at Roland Garros. Nadal has had two days to recover from his momentous and epic victory over his great rival Novak Djokovic in Tuesday’s quarter-final, with the 13-time French Open champion sealing the four-set win at 1.15am local time.

Nadal has admitted that this could be his last French Open due to his chronic foot injury and the Spaniard, who turns 36 today, faces another seismic challenge against Zverev. The German defeated rising star Carlos Alcaraz in what was another thrilling quarter-final upset, and was perhaps the best win of the 25-year-old’s grand slam career as he seeks to win his first major.

After playing in the night session on Tuesday on Court Philippe-Chatrier, Nadal is back to his preferred afternoon slot for the first of two men’s semi-finals today. Later on, Marin Cilic will look to advance to the fourth grand slam final of his career and continue his unlikely journey at this year’s French Open. The Croatian had not progressed further than the fourth round of a slam since 2018 and will take on the Norwegian Casper Ruud who is aiming to reach a grand slam final for the first time in his career.

Follow for live scores and updates from Rafael Nadal vs Alexander Zverev, below:

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Nadal 7-6 Zverev

What an extraordinary set of tennis. Zverev was a break up, playing superbly well, then had four set points in the tiebreak, but Nadal has pulled off an incredible robbery and leads after 91 gruelling minutes.

Both players have taken a break after that. Zverev will be struggling to understand how he is not a set up but his level slipped at some crucial points, while Nadal found his best stuff from 2-6 down.

This could be a long one, we’re back underway.

Jamie Braidwood3 June 2022 15:45

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Nadal 7-6 Zverev – Nadal wins the opening set!

Magic from Nadal! Another flying forehand winner from the Spaniard, whipping a brilliant pass down the line!

It’s his set point now, but Zverev hangs on after catching the baseline with a deep backhand. The crowd thought it was out as Nadal’s pick-up drifts out.

7-7 now, as both players keep it cautious, only for Zverev to drop a backhand into the net!

Set point Nadal, and on serve. But no! He had a chance after stepping into the court but tried to do too much with the backhand across court, as he pushes it wide!

8-8, as we reach 1 hour 30 minutes for this opening set! Nadal brings Zverev in with the drop shot but the pass from the German is tame and Nadal wins the point as Zverev can’t return on the volley.

Set point, again, and there it is! Zverev leaves Nadal the narrowest of corridors after stepping into the net, and Nadal plays a sublime winner down the line to take the opening set.

What a remarkable opener – how has Nadal won that??

Jamie Braidwood3 June 2022 15:39

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Nadal 6-6 Zverev

Huge hitting from Zverev as he surges into a 5-2 lead, putting Nadal under massive pressure on his serve. But Zverev steps it up again, back to the levels he was setting earlier in the match, as he crushes the groundstrokes deep to pin Nadal back, before unloading into the corner.

The first of four set points is saved by Nadal with an ace out wide, before Zverev goes long as he tried to close it out with a serve and volley! The serve was perfect but not for the first time, the volley let him down!

And that is why you can’t count Nadal out! It’s the shot of the match so far! Zverev must have thought he’d won the set after playing a brilliant point and forcing Nadal running, but he picked up the forehand on the stretch to unleash the passing winner across court! Sensational.

Back on Nadal’s serve now. And how did Nadal win that point! The drop shot was good but Zverev reached it, before putting a ball into the corner. Nadal scrambled back to find the lob, as Zverev goes wide on the backhand smash!

Nadal has saved four set points and it’s 6-6 in the tiebreak!

Jamie Braidwood3 June 2022 15:32

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Nadal 6-6 Zverev

Nadal has Zverev chasing on the opening point and the German goes long as he digs out a backhand from behind the baseline, only for Zverev to respond immediately with a unreturnable serve out wide. 1-1

Zverev then goes long under little pressure with his forehand, but Nadal can’t take advantage as he clips a forehand into the net. 2-2

Zverev gets away with one after Nadal rushes into the net. There was space either side of Nadal but his passing shot was straight at Nadal, who puts the forehad wide.

And Zverev heads into the change of ends 4-2 up after stepping up the power and forcing Nadal wide!

Jamie Braidwood3 June 2022 15:22

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Nadal 6-6 Zverev

Excellent from Zverev to go from being on the back foot to attacking Nadal with a deep ball at his feet, followed by a forehand which Nadal can’t return. A strong first serve results in a ace down the middle as he inches away from another out wide.

It looks like we’re heading for a simple hold but a backhand from Zverev into the net is followed by a double fault – his fourth of the set. Zverev then gets away with it as he clips the net, leaving Nadal unable to reach the ball as it drops on his side of the court.

Tiebreak time!

Jamie Braidwood3 June 2022 15:19

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Nadal 6-5 Zverev*

Nadal faces a pressure point on a second serve but Zverev shovels the return into the net. He would want that back. The German then blinks again on a forehand and Nadal is able to escape with his hold after saving two break points.

Jamie Braidwood3 June 2022 15:15

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Nadal 5-5 Zverev*

Zverev finds his level from the first seven games as he goes on the attack, first stepping into a short ball from Nadal to put away a winner and then outlasting him from the baseline with a brutal display of power.

Nadal reponds with a delicate drop shot that Zverev is unable to reach before the double bounce. Nadal then repeats the trick and although Zverev can reach it this time, he steers the volley wide.

It gets tense between both players, who exchange short balls through the middle of the court, before Zverev changes it up with a backhand winner that catches the line! Brilliant angle.

It sets up break point, but Nadal survives with an excellent serve out wide as Zverev sees the return drift long. Zverev keeps the pressure up, as he again wins the long point and gets the winner with an unstoppable inside out forehand winner.

Nadal returns to the serve and volley and is able to drop it beyond Zverev at the net! Another long game, and we go on.

Jamie Braidwood3 June 2022 15:13

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Nadal 5-5 Zverev*

Zverev finds his level from the first seven games as he goes on the attack, first stepping into a short ball from Nadal to put away a winner and then outlasting him from the baseline with a brutal display of power.

Nadal reponds with a delicate drop shot that Zverev is unable to reach before the double bounce. Nadal then repeats the trick and although Zverev can reach it this time, he steers the volley wide.

It gets tense between both players, who exchange short balls through the middle of the court, before Zverev changes it up with a backhand winner that catches the line! Brilliant angle.

It sets up break point, but Nadal survives with an excellent serve out wide as Zverev sees the return drift long. Zverev keeps the pressure up, as he again wins the long point and gets the winner with an unstoppable inside out forehand winner.

Nadal returns to the serve and volley and is able to drop it beyond Zverev at the net! Another long game, and we go on.

Jamie Braidwood3 June 2022 15:12

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*Nadal 5-5 Zverev – Zverev holds

Another error from Zverev brings up a third set point! Nadal was racing around the court as Zverev again tried to play on the front foot but the groundstrokes are not landing with the same accuracy as he pushes one wide.

Zverev gets out of it again with his biggest serve of the match so far, using the one-two punch to put away the forehand winner across court.

Another bomb, this time down the middle, is flicked into the net by a stretching Nadal. It would be quite the hold to get out of this. And we go on! Zverev had the chance to step into the net but he looked awkward trying to adjust to the volleu and nets again!

Back to deuce, and another volley error from Zverev! He clips the net cord with a simple smash but he gets away with it as Nadal goes long! And there’s the hold! My goodness that was tense game of errors, but Zverev produces a brilliant serve out wide and then finishes it with a deft volley at the net.

That was tough but Zverev gets through it, after I think 13 or 14 minutes.

Jamie Braidwood3 June 2022 15:05

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Nadal 5-4 Zverev*

Zverev’s first-serve percentage has dropped and Nadal is now able to step into the court more frequently. He moves around a backhand to send a forehand down the line that Zverev can’t return, to put the German under pressure at 30-30. Zverev responds with a winner out wide, but his second double fault brings up another deuce!

Zverev comes into the net and brings in Nadal with a dropped volley, before putting away the smash. He then rather frames a forehand as Nadal upped the pressure with a deep shot into the corner. Zverev then can’t put Nadal away with a forehand, with the Spaniard stranded on the edge of the court, before he nets!

Set point Nadal! But Zverev finds the first serve out wide and Nada; nets. It’s such a big weapon, and Nadal nets again on the opposite side after Zverev pushed him deep.

Oh, tension. Zverev wheels away in frustration after his second double fault of the game. Zverev then has Nadal right where he wanted him as he came into the net, but put the volley long!

Second set point! But again, Zverev lands a big one out wide and this time makes no mistake with the volley as he smacks it away.

Jamie Braidwood3 June 2022 14:55