Rafael Nadal had his work cut out to win a 14th French Open title. So far, he has passed the tests.
Nadal, seeded fifth and entering the tournament as the third favorite, plays Sunday’s final against No. 8 seed Casper Ruud, the first Norwegian man to make a major singles final.
Nadal took out No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals to become the clear expected winner. Then he advanced from the semifinals after opponent Alexander Zverev retired with an ankle injury while Nadal led 7-6 (8), 6-6.
The 35-year-old Spaniard is bidding to break 1972 French Open champion Andres Gimeno‘s record as the oldest singles champion in Paris. He had to overcome persistent foot pain that impacted his lead-up, which for the first time since 2015 included no titles in the early spring clay-court season.
Djokovic was the favorite after returning from his Australian Open ordeal to win the most recent significant clay tournament in Rome. The Serb was bidding to match Nadal’s male record 21 Grand Slam singles titles.
Then there was Carlos Alcaraz, who is the same age as Nadal was when Nadal won his first French Open. Alcaraz won his last two tournaments before Paris, including beating Nadal and Djokovic on back-to-back days on May 6-7, but was upset by Zverev in the quarterfinals.
The other half of the draw was blown open with No. 2 Daniil Medvedev and No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas losing in the fourth round.
Roger Federer, 40, hasn’t played since Wimbledon after knee surgeries and is not expected to return to Grand Slam tennis this year, if at all.
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