Rafael Nadal sets up 1st round French Open duel with Alexander Zverev

Rafael Nadal is ready for a rare first-round matchup against Alexander Zverev (Getty Images)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

Rafael Nadal is ready to lace his shoes and set foot on the famous Roland Garros clay court as he was drawn against world no. 4 ranked male tennis player Alexander Zverev in the first round of the French Open.

After a 50-50 status of joining his pet surface due to tons of injuries before arriving in France, Nadal finally confirmed his participation after including his name in the official pool of players.

Nadal is set to take on Zverev today, at 6 PM (Philippine time), and is seeking to raise his 15th overall French Open championship title.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion only played a total of 15 professional major matches sanctioned by the ATP. However, Nadal still wrapped up his performances with several impressive finishes in the Italian Open and the Madrid Open.

In the very first round of Roland Garros, Nadal will be going up against a rejuvenated Zverev who recently improved his rank to world no. 4.

Despite the tough first-round matchup, Nadal and his training team are still optimistic that the great Spaniard still has enough gas left in the tank to pull off a consistent French Open campaign.

From tasting the world no. 1 spot several years ago before his injury-plagued stretch, Nadal dropped to world no. 276, his first time competing on the Grand Slam clay court not named among the top 50 male players.

“I’m going to play the tournament thinking that I can give my all, 100 percent. And if 100 percent is not enough to win a match, I’ll accept that. But I don’t want to step onto court knowing that I have no chance. If there’s a 0.01 percent chance, I want to explore that and give it a go,” said Nadal.

For Zverev, he never counted Nadal out despite the roller coaster he experienced in the past months: “In my mind, I’m going to play peak Rafa Nadal. That’s what I expect him to be. I expect him to be at his absolute best.”

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