Rafael Nadal draws Alexander Zverev in French Open first round

League: Tennis

Posted on: 23 May, 2024 at 02:51 PM

Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Rafael Nadal returns to Roland Garros to face Italian Open champion and fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany in the first round of the French Open.

The 2024 French Open begins Sunday and features the return of Spain's Nadal, the winningest player in the history of the tournament, who missed the Grand Slam event in 2023 for the first time in 19 years because of a hip injury.

Nadal has won the title in Paris 14 times.

The men's draw was released Thursday and pits Nadal and Zverev in a Paris reunion of sorts. They met in the semifinals in 2022, when Zverev was taken from the court in a wheelchair and ultimately forced to retire with an ankle injury.

Nadal, who turns 38 on June 3, went through to the 2022 final and defeated Casper Ruud of Norway for the title. Nadal has a combined record of 112-3 at Roland Garros and is chasing his 23rd Grand Slam title.

Three of those titles came in finals victories over Novak Djokovic, who is the No. 1 seed in the men's draw. The 37-year-old Serbian is matched up against France's Pierre-Hugues Herbert and could have a potential quarterfinal matchup with Ruud, the No. 7 seed. Djokovic was defeated by Alejandro Tabilo of Chile at the Italian Open two days after being hit in the head by a fan's metal water bottle.

Djokovic has won 24 Grand Slam events, including three titles in Paris.

Second-seeded Jannik Sinner of Italy, working his way back from a right hip injury, said preparation for Paris wasn't "optimal" because of limited workouts. The 22-year-old won the Masters 1000 in Miami in March after his first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January.

He begins play with a first-round match against American and No. 43 Christopher Eubanks.

No. 3 seed Carlos Alcaraz of Spain has been fighting a forearm injury but deemed himself ready for the French Open. Alcaraz, 21, did not play in the Italian Open after a quarterfinal loss at Madrid and he withdrew from the Barcelona Open.

"I need to rest so I can recover and play 100 percent pain free," Alcaraz said when bowing out of the Italian Open.

Though his time on clay in 2024 has been limited, Alcaraz arrived in Paris on Wednesday and declared he would be ready for the French Open. His first-round match will be against a qualifier or lucky loser.

"I was dealing with the pain, and how to focus my practices regarding the injury," he said. "Playing the Mutua Madrid Open not at my 100 percent was difficult as well but I'm really happy that I had the chance to play. Missing Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, tournaments that are really beautiful for me, was tough but things are going very, very good lately and that's all that matters. I think I'll be at my 100 percent."

--Field Level Media