Rafael Nadal faces ‘mental challenge’ against Alexander Zverev at French Open

Tim Henman believes Nadal must reset after overcoming Novak Djokovic in a quarter-final epic

Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic in four sets (Christophe Ena/AP)
Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic in four sets (Christophe Ena/AP)

Tim Henman believes Rafael Nadal’s biggest challenge against Alexander Zverev at the French Open will be mental rather than physical.

Nadal shrugged off a chronic foot injury to beat arch-rival, defending champion and world number one Novak Djokovic in four gruelling sets on Tuesday night.

The Spaniard, who turns 36 on Friday, faces another huge test of his fitness when he takes on 25-year-old world number three Zverev in the semi-final.

But Eurosport pundit and former British number one Henman said: “Rafa’s physicality is unbelievable.

“Let’s wind the clock back to when we saw him walking off the court having lost to Denis Shapovalov and he was limping in Rome. Then 10 days later he’s in this tournament playing incredible tennis, he had to really pull it out of the bag against (Felix) Auger-Aliassime to go the five sets.

“We know he’s not getting any younger, but then to recover and to go up against Djokovic – one of his greatest rivals, the number one player in the world – and put in a performance like that, not only the quality of the tennis but his attitude, the physicality for four hours and 12 minutes, it’s incredible.

Nadal faces world number three Alexander Zverev (Jean-Francois Badias/AP)

“There’s going to be a physical challenge, but it’s also a mental challenge because normally when Rafa beats Djokovic in a grand slam it’s the final and he gets handed the trophy, but that was the quarter-finals.

“So yes, he does have two days to recover, but this is going to be a tough test even for Rafa.”

Watch every match from Roland-Garros live and exclusive on discovery+ and Eurosport

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in