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'King of Clay' Rafael Nadal exits Roland Garros in first round after hinting retirement

It was an emotional evening at Court Philippe-Chatrier as the 'King of Clay,' Rafael Nadal, made a shocking first-round exit at Roland Garros 2024 on Monday. Despite Alexander Zverev's straight-sets victory, all hearts were with Nadal, who may have played his final match at the Grand Slam.
Last Updated : 28 May 2024, 11:25 IST
Last Updated : 28 May 2024, 11:25 IST

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Rafael Nadal's illustrious French Open career likely concluded with his first-ever opening round defeat, handed to him by Alexander Zverev.

Rafael Nadal's illustrious French Open career likely concluded with his first-ever opening round defeat, handed to him by Alexander Zverev.

Credit: Reuters

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Nadal matched world number four Zverev for long periods on a packed Court Philippe Chatrier, but slipped to a 6-3, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 loss as he was beaten for just the fourth time in 116 matches at the tournament.

Nadal matched world number four Zverev for long periods on a packed Court Philippe Chatrier, but slipped to a 6-3, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 loss as he was beaten for just the fourth time in 116 matches at the tournament.

Credit: Reuters

This year's event was expected to be the 14-time champion's farewell to Roland Garros, but he had since insisted he could not confirm "100 percent" it would be his last appearance.

This year's event was expected to be the 14-time champion's farewell to Roland Garros, but he had since insisted he could not confirm "100 percent" it would be his last appearance.

Credit: Reuters

Nadal, who turns 38 next week, showed all his trademark fighting qualities in a gripping match, but only managed to convert two of 11 break points against an inspired opponent.

Nadal, who turns 38 next week, showed all his trademark fighting qualities in a gripping match, but only managed to convert two of 11 break points against an inspired opponent.

Credit: Reuters

German Zverev, who lifted the Rome Open title last month, proved too strong despite the fans desperately attempting to raise Nadal to past glories.

German Zverev, who lifted the Rome Open title last month, proved too strong despite the fans desperately attempting to raise Nadal to past glories.

Credit: Reuters

Nadal’s legacy of a record 14 Roland Garros titles stands as a testament to his exceptional skill and dedication on clay. At 37, the Spaniard can reflect on his illustrious tennis career as he nears what appears to be an imminent retirement, given his ongoing injuries.

Nadal’s legacy of a record 14 Roland Garros titles stands as a testament to his exceptional skill and dedication on clay. At 37, the Spaniard can reflect on his illustrious tennis career as he nears what appears to be an imminent retirement, given his ongoing injuries.

Credit: Reuters

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Published 28 May 2024, 11:25 IST

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