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French Open: Rafael Nadal and Casper Ruud in the final on the day of the injury and the protest drama

French Open: Rafael Nadal and Casper Ruud in the final on the day of the injury and the protest drama

Rafael Nadal reached his 14th French Open final on Friday when Alexander Zverev was forced out of his final game after sustaining a right ankle injury on a dramatic day at Roland Garros. Nadal will play his 30th Grand Slam final on Sunday when he takes on Casper Ruud, the first Norwegian to play in a league match at the majors.

Nadal was 7-6 (10/8), 6-6 ahead when Zverev was forced to stop while Ruud beat Marin Cilic 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in her semi-final held when an environmental protester ran onto the pitch and tied herself to the net.

Zverev twisted his ankle as he chased the ball past the players’ boxes on Philippe Chatrier Court where his shocked team and family sat.

As his piercing cries of pain echoed around the 15,000-seater pitch, a tearful Zverev was carried off the pitch in a wheelchair as Nadal watched worriedly.

Minutes later, the 25-year-old returned on crutches and conceded the game, with Nadal hugging his heartbroken opponent.

“If you’re human, you feel sorry for a colleague,” said 13-time French Open champion Nadal.

“It’s very difficult and very sad for him. He was playing an incredible tournament and he is a very good colleague on the circuit.

“I know how hard he fights to win a Grand Slam. At the moment he has been unlucky. I’m sure he won’t win one, but many more than one. wish the best.”

Tears

He added: “For me, being in the final of Roland Garros is a dream, no doubt, but at the same time, that it ends like this… I was there in the small room with Sascha and for the see you cry like that…”

Zverev later said he “suffered a very serious injury”.

“It was a very difficult moment on the pitch. It looks like a very serious injury but the medical team is still checking it and I will keep you posted,” he said.

“But congratulations to Rafa, it’s an incredible achievement to be in the final for the 14th time.

“Hopefully he goes all the way and makes more history.”

Until the dramatic end of the match, Zverev had pushed Nadal all the way.

In a rollercoaster 91-minute first set, Zverev broke in the opener before Nadal equalized at 4-4.

The Spaniard, dripping with sweat under the closed roof, saw three set points come and go in the 10th game as the German’s all-or-nothing strike kept him in the game.

Nadal, who celebrated his 36th birthday on Friday, then saved four set points in a stabbing tiebreaker, including one on a spectacular forehand cross.

A searing forehand pass gave him the opener on a sixth set point.

Zverev, playing in the Roland Garros semi-finals for the second consecutive year, scored 25 winners and 26 unforced errors.

The second set was punctuated by eight service breaks. When Nadal broke for 2-1, he did so following a grueling 44-shot rally.

Nadal becomes the second oldest man to qualify for the final in Paris after 37-year-old Bill Tilden, a runner-up in 1930.

The win saw Nadal, who knocked out world number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, take his French Open record to 111 wins and just three losses.

If he won on Sunday, he would be the tournament’s oldest champion, eclipsing 34-year-old compatriot Andres Gimeno who won the title in 1972.

‘Idol’ Nadal

Nadal reached the final despite his own doubts about his long-term future in the sport.

A chronic left foot injury has forced him to admit that any match could be the last of his record-breaking French Open career.

He needed over four hours to beat Felix Auger-Aliassime in five sets in the round of 16, then it took four more hours to defeat Djokovic in four sets.

Ruud became the first Norwegian to reach a Slam final and hailed Nadal as his “idol”.

World number eight Ruud fired 16 aces and 41 winners against 2014 US Open champion Cilic.

However, there was a worrying security breach in the third set when a protester ran onto the pitch and tied herself by her neck to the net.

She wore a shirt with the slogan: “We have 1028 days left” before being finally released by the security agents. The match resumed after 15 minutes of delay.

“It was a great game from my side, I didn’t start the best but Marin played a really good first set,” said Ruud, 23.

“I admire Rafa. He is the perfect example of how to behave on the pitch, he never gives up and never complains. He has been my idol all my life.”

Ruud described the protest as a “delicate and difficult situation”.

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“I only saw her from behind, I didn’t know if she was holding something or what was around her neck.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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