Nadal catches the Roland Garros final after an injury to Zverev | Sports | The USA Print


Whistle in the tribune Nadalist unwavering as if he already knew the end, as if someone had tipped him off the outcome or, simply, as if he already knew that whatever happens down there, on the sand, history is written and destiny decided. Rafael Nadal is rained down by Alexander Zverev’s sticks, the German was huge for an hour and a half, as if he had metamorphosed; He has rarely been seen so serious, so applied, so focused. Such a good tennis player.

However, the one who takes a final blow is him, who has put absolutely everything on the table but left in a bad way, first in a wheelchair and then on crutches due to a sprain, injured. Clapping for him, from whistles to affection: “Sas-cha, Sas-cha, Sas-cha!”. Before, he sees it coming: here comes Nadal, the bogeyman, go wrong, bigger and bigger as he saves one, and another, and another, and another, and another… and so on up to four set points in the tie-breaker. Until he decants the first partial with a through blow and emotionally pulverizes the afternoon. There is no turning back: 7-6(8) and 6-6, after 3h 13m. Inside, the one in Hamburg has burst.

The three of the world resist, but the situation is irreversible. Not perhaps against another, yes against Nadal. The 36 springs of the Spaniard and his access to the final in Paris come like this, with another of those portentous exhibitions of resilience, of epic, of warrior prose. Actually, it could not be otherwise. Not with Nadal.

The Balearic rebels against the elements, the circumstances and against his foot; it rains in Paris, the power plant is covered and the pain does not go away, but he rows, rows and rows, and when he has to deliver an accurate blow, lethal again, he lands it and the Chatrier explodes: “Ra-fa, Ra-fa, Ra-fa!”. He is already, according to records, the second oldest finalist in the history of the tournament – ​​one step below the American Bill Tilden, 37 in the 1930 edition – and if he wins his 14th trophy, the 22nd majorwill become the oldest champion, an honor that still belongs to Barcelona’s Andrés Gimeno, 34 in 1972.

The hostility of the beginning

So capricious and contradictory is history. There remain the boos and whistles of 15 years ago, when Nadal, a spanish from town that ran like a demon, sported biceps and celebrated each point as if he had scored a goal, that had all the desire to conquer the world and began to take over the great Frenchman, had to listen day in and day out music of the central, always in favor of the rival. And even against him. The emotional turn is consolidating these days, now that the neighbors, the fans, tennis and sports, all fear that this Sunday’s – against Casper Ruud or Marin Cilic, cited in the other semifinal – could be the last dance of the king in paris Maybe a goodbye. Who knows. As far as that battered scaphoid resists, the degenerative scourge of Müller-Weiss syndrome.

In any case, Nadal returns to star in another impossible theoretician and the stands cheer him on and cheer him cheekily, turning against Zverev. He had already turned his back on Novak Djokovic on Tuesday and now the one who receives the hostility is the German, a brittle mind that despite adversity endures whole, fights, he answers. Little or nothing can be reproached him this time; perhaps that lack of lucidity to close some clear points and the lack of virtuosity of him in the network; otherwise, chapeau.

He replies seasoned, rebellious. To the same tone with which he reduced the boisterous rise of Carlos Alcaraz in the tournament. However, the slap received in the resolution of the first set circulates over and over again through his head, and when he more or less manages to turn the page, there is the umpteenth psychological attack of the Majorcan.

Five stings in a row

Everything happens as if it were predetermined. It had to happen like this. Yes or yes. Nadal is involved, master of escapism. At each break, a slap back. The giant destroys three set points, and at 5-5 it is the Spaniard who avoids two break options. He applies the sting and then the tiebreaker hits; 2-6 down, water up to the neck, a trap from which it is difficult to get out. And there comes that first devastating intern (5-6) and then the other, the definitive one, the broadside. Five successive stings. The Balearic is awarded the sleeve and the Chatrier pronounces again: “Ra-fa, Ra-fa, Ra-fa!”.

Heavenly music for him, an emotional anvil falling on the spirit of the German. Zverev feints with the short circuit, but is contained. An outburst costs him a warning from the chair umpire and a subsequent reprimand from the center, but the young man (25 years old) does not lose the thread and continues on his own. he doesn’t give up sasha. He knows, in any case, that what lies ahead is something like the 14 eight thousand consecutive, the entire Himalayan range to go. Complicated, very complicated. And he insists and insists. Hit and hit, but each response is immediate. She does not let Nadal go, in his sauce. He was going to decide the second set in another tiebreaker, but the ugly comes, the tremendous twist.

When making a lateral movement in the race, the German gets his foot hooked on the clay and plummets. He cries out in pain, and Chatrier’s stomachs clench at the shuddering sound. “Until this happened, it was a great game. Playing against him, at this level, is one of the greatest challenges. So hard to stop him. be in the final [la 14ª en París, 30ª en un Grand Slam] It’s a dream, there’s no doubt, but at the same time, seeing him cry like that sasha It’s hard”, Nadal says goodbye on the day that Paris has probably pushed him like never before.

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