Tennis legend Rafael Nadal has a chance to become the oldest person to win the French Open.
According to the Associated Press, the Spanish tennis pro advanced to the French Open final on Friday after his opponent, Alexander Zverev, dropped out of the semi-final due to an injured right leg. The match took place on Nadal’s 36th birthday.
Nadal prevailed in the first set with a 7-6 (8) score and neared a tiebreaker in the second set before 25-year-old Zverev grabbed his ankle and screamed in pain while chasing the ball.
The 21-time Grand Slam winner checked on his opponent before Zverev left the court in a wheelchair. Several moments later, Zverev returned on crutches and announced he was dropping out of the match. He congratulated Nadal with a hug.
“Very tough and very sad for him,” Nadal said, Reuters reported. “Honestly, he was playing an unbelievable tournament. He’s a very good colleague on the Tour.”
“I know how much he’s fighting to win a Grand Slam, but for the moment he was very unlucky,” Nadal continued. “The only thing I’m sure is that he is going to win not one — more than one.”
The oldest person to have won a French Open is currently the late Spanish tennis player Andrés Gimeno, who was 34 when he took the title in 1972.
Nadal, ranked No. 5 in singles, has won the French Open a record 13 times. He’s also defending his Grand Slam record and is vying for a 22nd title.
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Nadal was recently sidelined for six weeks due to a rib fracture and has dealt with an ongoing foot injury since competing in the 2005 Madrid Open final, which forced him to end his 2021 season early.
“All the sacrifices, and all the things that I need to go through to try to keep playing really make sense when you enjoy moments like I’m enjoying in this tournament,” Nadal said Friday, according to ESPN.
On Sunday, Nadal will face Norwegian tennis player Casper Ruud in the French Open final.