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Roland Garros: Five things we learned on Day 2: Nadal's got no idea

By Paul Myers - RFI
Europe  Pierre Ren-Worms/RFI
MON, 27 MAY 2024 LISTEN
© Pierre René-Worms/RFI

So he's not going to come back? Or perhaps he is. Rafael Nadal was all coy about future visits to the French Open after losing in the first round for the first time.

Going?
Rafael Nadal – he who has won thetournament 14 times and has the shoes to prove it – gave the distinct impression last year that this year would be his final traipse around theATP circuit. But now, maybe not. "If I keep enjoying doing what I am doing and I feel myself competitive and healthy enough to enjoy, I want to keep going for a while," Nadal said after his first round loss to Alexander Zverev. "I don't know for how long, but I want to keep going for a while, because my wife and child are having fun, I am having fun, and I need to see. I need to give myself a little bit longer to see if my level is growing and my body is holding, and then let's make a decision." Exactly who do you think you are? One of the greatest players of all time?

Definitely gone
Rafael Nadal lost in the first round for the first time since he started coming to the French Open in 2005. Even he said it's unusual for him not to be the favourite to win his first round match. But that's what happens when you slip down to number 276 in the world and you face the fourth seed at a tournament soon after he has claimed the Italian Open. Nadal was valiant in defeat and munificent. "Well played," he told Zverev during the on-court interviews. "Congratulations on your win in Rome and all the best for the rest of this tournament."

Duty calls
Alexander Zverev did his duty. As fourth seed you are supposed to beat the world number 276. And give or take a flew butterflies, he fulfilled the brief. "I think that generally the whole tennis world since the draw came out was only talking about that one match," Zverev reflected an hour or so after his straight sets victory over Nadal. "So it is definitely very, very different. But I know that I have to keep focusing. I know that I will play great players ahead still, and I have to focus on that."

Can I see him?
It was no surprise to spotIga Swiatek in the crowd during the match between Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev. The women's world number one is a rolling-eyes of a Nadal fan girl. Nadal's fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz was also watching so too a certain Novak Djokovic, who had until Alexander Zverev's victory, been one of the only two men to have beaten Nadal at the French Open. Nadal said he was flattered. "These young players that are here like Carlos ... they probably have been watching me on TV most of their lives," said Nadal. "It's normal that in some way they are interested to see how this going to be, and especially in this particular place with all the history that I had. I am happy that that happens, you know, because that means that I had a positive legacy here and positive legacy my career, no?" A definite yes Rafa.

Emotions
Since there's no need to be overwhelmed overly early in the tournament, organisers generously placed the showman incarnate Gael Monfils in the second night session. The local hero – who is a few months younger than Rafael Nadal –  was up against Thiago Seyboth Wild from Brazil. Monfils was his usual flamboyant self and took the first set in 29 minutes 6-2 to the utter delight of the partisans. Monfils being Monfils went for a mental walk as he ran around in the second set. He steadied the ship and won the next two sets to move into the second round. Imagine that, Monfils doing better than Nadal at the French Open.

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