The draw has been made for Rafael Nadal at the French Open. It couldn’t have gone much worse for the Spaniard

Rafael Nadal has been given a tough assignment against world No. 4 Alexander Zverev in the opening round of what is set to be the final French Open of his career.

Ranked No. 276 in the world, Nadal’s unseeded status coming into Roland Garros, a tournament he has won an astonishing 14 times, meant a clash against another heavyweight in the first round was always a possibility.

While Nadal has beaten Zverev seven times in their previous 10 meetings, the German is one of the favorites to lift the title. The tournament starts on May 26.

The fourth seed arrives at Roland Garros full of confidence after winning the Italian Open last week, his ninth Masters 1000 title.

The two last met in an intense 2022 French Open semifinal where Zverev retired mid-match following an ankle injury that sidelined him for the rest of the year.

The 37-year-old Nadal has lost just three times at Roland Garros since making his debut in 2005 and will need to muster every ounce of his experience to ensure an in-form Zverev doesn’t add to that tally.

An end of an era

Nadal said last May that 2024 was likely to be his last year on the tour, but the Spaniard has continued to struggle with injuries since his announcement, impacting his ability to train and play at a high level.

The 22-time grand slam champion even admitted after his heavy second-round defeat to Hubert Hurkacz at the Italian Open earlier this month that he wasn’t sure if would be able to play at the French Open.

Nadal missed the Australian Open this season due to injury and has played in just four tournaments so far this year, his best result coming at the Madrid Open where he reached the fourth round.

Elsewhere, defending champion Novak Djokovic will face Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the opening round, while former winner Stanislas Wawarinka will play former finalist Andy Murray, who is also likely to be appearing at his last French Open.

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