Rafael Nadal stat does not bode well for Alexander Zverev in French Open semi-final

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Rafael Nadal is heavily fancied to win the French Open for a record-extending 14th time this year after getting the better of Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals. The Spaniard continues his pursuit of a 22nd Grand Slam against Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals today (Friday).

But Zverev faces an almighty task to reach the semis for a second straight year, having lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in 2021. The German has won three times against Nadal but is 6-3 down overall against the clay-court king. He won on the red stuff in Madrid last year but lost in Rome.

Zverev boasts a victory over Nadal in Paris, but at the hard-court Masters rather than Roland Garros. And Nadal has in fact only ever lost to Djokovic and Robin Soderling at the French Open. Since defeat to Soderling in 2009, Nadal has gone 76-2 at the major.

Those only two losses in the past 13 years came against Djokovic in the 2015 quarter-finals and in the semi-finals last year. Nadal is otherwise unbeaten against every other opponent he has faced at his favourite Slam.

Victory would likely be the biggest of Zverev’s career so far, given he has only ever played one Slam final before. That was at the US Open in 2020, when he lost to Dominic Thiem despite winning the two sets. En route to the final he did not face a single top-10 player with Nadal absent and Djokovic defaulted in the fourth round.

Nadal, 105-3 overall at the French Open, or Zverev will face either eighth seed Casper Ruud in the final or Marin Cilic, the 20th seed and former US Open champion. Should 13-time French Open winner Nadal progress to the showpiece, he will be the massive favourite on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

But after beating Djokovic, he insisted another Roland Garros triumph is far from certain. He said: “It’s just a quarter-final match, no? So I didn’t win anything. So I just [need to] give myself a chance to be back on court in two days, play another semi-final here in Roland Garros. [It] means a lot to me.”

Seven-time Grand Slam champion John McEnroe however expects Nadal to rule supreme in the French capital once more. He said: “It seems like you would have to be crazy to bet against him. His birthday is Friday, when he plays Zverev.

“He will be 36, and I’m not sure that I have seen him play better than what I witnessed last night [vs Djokovic]. I’m sure there has been close, and there have been a number of times where he has played at an extraordinary level.

“That was one for the ages! If that had gone five [sets], I might have slept here in the booth. It ended at 1.15am. Certainly, a lot of fans here not forgetting.”

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