Rafael Nadal Vs Alexander Zverev, French Open: Legend Bows Out, But Refuses To Say Goodbye

Though he had earlier said that the 2024 season cold be his last one on the circuit, Rafael Nadal said he did not know whether his first-round loss to Alexander Zverev was his final match at Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal vs Alexander Zverev, French Open 2024, Twitter handle
Rafael Nadal in action during his first-round defeat against Alexander Zverev at French Open 2024. Photo: X/Roland Garros

Will he? Won't he? The persistent question lingered on as Rafael Nadal bowed out 3-6, 6-7 (5-7), 3-6 in the French Open 2024 first round against an inspired Alexander Zverev. This could well become Nadal's last match at Roland Garros, but we don't know yet. Nadal doesn't know yet. (Full Coverage | Tennis News)

"It is difficult for me to talk, I don't know if it's the last time I'll be here in front of all of you.

"Honestly, I am not sure. If it is, then you have been amazing. The feelings I have today are difficult to describe in words. It is the place I love the most," an emotional Nadal said on court after his loss, only his fourth ever at French Open over the last 20 years.

"Maybe in two months I say it is enough, I can't give anything else, but it is something I don't feel yet. I hope to be back on this court at the Olympics, that motivates me," he added.

"I really hope to see you again - but I don't know."

Amid all the expectancy and fanfare, the soon-to-be 38-year-old played a brand of tennis that belied his age and recurring injury concerns. Nadal produced several trademark forehand magic moments and took the fight to Zverev. It just so happened that the German was that much better on the day.

If it was indeed his last match at Roland Garros, Nadal will leave a legacy hard to match at the hallowed clay court Grand Slam. The Spanish legend is the only player in history to win 14 singles titles at one Grand Slam tournament. Such has been Nadal's dominance at French Open that he was won 14 of his 22 Grand Slam titles here.

Nadal has won 112 of his 116 matches at the Paris major, which is the highest winning percentage of any singles player at a Grand Slam. He is also the only player to win five consecutive titles at Roland Garros (from 2010 to 2014).

And yet, his tenacity forbids experts to rule Nadal out from another season. And thus, we wait. For one last miracle.