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Rafael Nadal into French Open final after Alexander Zverev suffers injury

Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev were locked in what looked to be a titanic semifinal clash before Zverev turned his ankle and retired the match, sending Nadal through to the French Open final.

Rafael Nadal will play for a 14th, and possibly last, French Open title, but this is not how he wanted to advance to the final.

Nadal moved on after Alexander Zverev retired from their Friday semifinal match with a right ankle injury in the second set. In the final, he will play No. 8 seed Casper Ruud of Norway, who took out No. 20 Marin Cilic of Croatia, live on NBC,, the NBC Sports app and Peacock Premium on Sunday at 9 a.m. ET.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Zverev rolled the ankle on game point for Nadal to force a tiebreak after Nadal won a punishing first set 7-6 (8). The match was more than three hours old when Zverev screamed in pain and was taken off the court in a wheelchair.

Nadal, who has dealt off and on with a foot injury since 2005, also went off court. He was there while Zverev received medical attention. Nadal came back, and soon after the German re-entered the court on crutches to shake the chair umpire’s hand and hug Nadal.

“See him crying there is a very tough moment,” said Nadal, who has practiced with Zverev many times. “See a colleague on the tour like this, even if for me it’s a dream be in the final of Roland Garros, of course that way is not the way that we want it to be.”

Zverev posted a video on social media hours later.

“Looks like I have a very serious injury, but the medical team, the doctors are still checking on it, and we’ll keep you updated,” he said.

Nadal and Zverev went toe to toe in the first two, error-filled, serve-breaking sets.

“I was not able to push him back,” Nadal said of the 6-foot-6 Zverev. “He was able to hit a clean ball all the time, so [I] was surviving, a lot of surviving moments during that match.”

Nadal survived to play at least one more day in his legendary Roland Garros career. He has spoken this week of not knowing when his final match in Paris will be. On Friday, he said that he would trade the title on Sunday for a healthy foot long-term, though he said he is feeling physically OK at the moment.

“Even if all the sacrifices and all the things that I need to go through to try to keep playing, really makes sense when you enjoy moments like I’m enjoying in this tournament,” he said.

The foot pain had him considering retirement before this season. Then he won the Australian Open in January for his 21st major singles title, breaking his tie with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic for the men’s career record.

He had a less desirable lead-up to the French Open, failing to win a clay-court event this spring and saying last month regarding his foot, “What can happen in the next couple of days, I don’t know. What can happen in one week, I really don’t know now.”

Now, after beating Djokovic in a four-set quarterfinal and advancing past the injured Zverev on his 36th birthday, Nadal is the oldest French Open men’s singles finalist in 92 years. He can become the oldest men’s singles champion in tournament history.

“I played, I fighted,” he said Friday. “I did all the things possible to give myself at least a chance to be where I am.”

The final is on the 17th anniversary of his first French Open title.

“To be in the final of Roland Garros one more time,” Nadal said, “it’s a dream without a doubt.”

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