Nadal out of possible last French Open, Swiatek through

PARIS   -   Rafael Nadal’s illustrious French Open career came to a likely end with his first ever defeat in the opening round by Alexander Zverev on Monday, after Iga Swiatek made a winning start in her bid for a fourth title. 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. 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. “If it is (the last time), then you have been amazing,” Nadal told an adoring crowd unde place I love the most.”

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. “The first round wasn’t ideal,” he admitted, before saying he “hoped” to be back at Roland Garros later this summer for the Paris Olympics. “It’s hard to say about the future. I am travelling with my family and I am having fun. The body is feeling better than it did two months ago.”

German Zverev proved too strong despite the fans desperately attempting to raise Nadal to past glories. He banished the memories of the duo’s last meeting, when he left Chatrier court on a wheelchair after injuring his ankle during their 2022 French Open semi-final. His reward for becoming just the third player to defeat Nadal at Roland Garros -- after Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling -- is a match against either David Goffin or home wildcard Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard. Women’s world No 1 Swiatek raced to a 6-1, 6-2 victory against French qualifier Leolia Jeanjean after just 61 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier. The Pole will next face fellow four-time major champion Naomi Osaka on Wednesday. Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner started his title tilt with a confident 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win over Wimbledon quarter-finalist Christopher Eubanks.

The Italian second seed, who withdrew from the Madrid Open and missed the Rome Open with a hip injury, set up a second-round meeting with French veteran Richard Gasquet. Former finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Marton Fucsovics of Hungary 7-6 (9/7), 6-4, 6-1. Women’s third seed Coco Gauff raced through in just 52 minutes by crushing Russian Julia Avdeeva 6-1, 6-1. She will face Slovenian qualifier Tamara Zidansek for a place in the last 32. Marketa Vondrousova eased past Rebeka Masarova of Spain in straight sets. Tunisian eighth seed Ons Jabeur booked her place in round two with a comfortable win over US wildcard Sachia Vickery.

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