Rafael Nadal is part of the players competing in the French Open, and his first-round opponent will be Alexander Zverev

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Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev poses before thier game

Rafael Nadal has confirmed his participation in the French Open, and the draw revealed that he will face a tough challenge in the first round against No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev.

“It’s going to be difficult, but Nadal is known for his fighting spirit,” said tournament director Amélie Mauresmo. “Anything can happen with him.”

This could be Nadal’s final appearance at Roland Garros, as he had been uncertain about competing due to recent injuries, including hip surgery that caused him to miss last year’s tournament.

After a recent loss at the Italian Open, Nadal took time to consider whether to play in Paris. However, the 38-year-old Spaniard has been practicing on the clay courts at Roland Garros and is officially listed in the tournament. The French Open kicks off this Sunday.

The winner of the Nadal-Zverev match could potentially face No. 1 seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. Djokovic’s first opponent is French wild-card entry Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Men’s and Women’s trophies during the presentation

The projected men’s quarterfinal matchups include Djokovic against No. 7 Casper Ruud and Zverev or Nadal against No. 5 Daniil Medvedev in the top half of the draw. In the bottom half, it could be No. 2 Jannik Sinner against No. 8 Hubert Hurkacz, and No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz versus No. 6 Andrey Rublev.

In the women’s competition, an interesting possible semifinal matchup could feature No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who aims for her third consecutive French Open win, against No. 3 Coco Gauff, the current U.S. Open champion who lost to Swiatek in the Paris final two years ago.

“I’m starting to feel really comfortable here,” Swiatek said during the draw ceremony. She will begin her campaign against a player who was in the qualifying rounds, and then might encounter four-time major champion and former No. 1 Naomi Osaka.

The potential women’s quarterfinals include Swiatek versus No. 5 Marketa Vondrousova, and Gauff versus No. 8 Ons Jabeur in the top half of the draw. In the bottom half, it could be No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka against No. 6 Maria Sakkari, and No. 4 Elena Rybakina against No. 7 Zheng Qinwen.

Despite Rafael Nadal’s impressive history at the tournament — with a record of 112-3 — the French tennis federation chose not to deviate from its usual rules, which follow the ATP and WTA rankings for seeding players.

Marie-Jose shakes hands with Iga Swiatek

As a result, the 22-time major champion’s ranking, affected by his recent inactivity, placed him at No. 276, leaving him unseeded. This meant that Nadal could face any opponent in the first round, determined by a random computerized draw.

His upcoming match against Zverev, the 2020 U.S. Open runner-up and Tokyo Olympic gold medalist, revisits their 2022 French Open semifinal, cut short when Zverev injured his right ankle.

Zverev, a 27-year-old from Germany, heads into Roland Garros with serious aspirations for his first major title, following a victory at the Italian Open on clay.

However, Zverev has been in the news recently for a matter unrelated to tennis: A legal proceeding in Germany, concerning allegations of physical abuse made by an ex-girlfriend, is set to commence next week. Zverev has stated that he won’t be present for the court case.

Another notable first-round match features two veterans of the game: Andy Murray, who recently turned 37, facing off against Stan Wawrinka, who is 39.

Other first-round matches to watch include Australian Open runner-up Zheng against the popular French player Alizé Cornet, who has announced her retirement after the French Open.

Additionally, two-time major finalist Karolina Pliskova will take on the No. 15 seed Elina Svitolina, a three-time Grand Slam semifinalist.

A notable withdrawal announced on Thursday was from fifth-ranked Jessica Pegula, an American who has reached the quarterfinals of six major tournaments.


By Christopher Kamila

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