Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff, Martina Navratilova & other tennis stars react to Rafael Nadal's emotional French Open exit

Rafael Nadal pictured at the 2024 French Open; Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff (inset) (Image Source: Getty)
Rafael Nadal pictured at the 2024 French Open; Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff (inset) (Image Source: Getty)

Rafael Nadal’s departure from the 2024 French Open has drawn emotional reactions from his colleagues, including Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff and Martina Navratilova.

Nadal crashed out of the French Open with a rare first-round loss to a familiar foe in Alexander Zverev. The German, who is the fourth seed at the tournament, needed three hours and six minutes to get the job done in straight sets. Rafael Nadal, true to his character, fought until the last point in the 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3 loss, in what was perhaps his final performance at the tournament.

Given the significance of the occasion, several tennis players competing at the French Open flocked to Court Philippe Chatrier to witness the tournament’s most successful champion. Iga Swiatek, Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Stan Wawrinka, Alize Cornet and Caroline Garcia, were among those present at the stadium.

Many players, active and retired, took to social media to show their appreciation for the legend. World No. 1 Iga Swiatek acknowledged her idol’s status as “King of Clay.”

Serena Williams’ ex-coach Rennae Stubbs admired Rafael Nadal’s energetic presence on the court.

"@rafaelnadal. This is how I want to remember hi at Roland Garros," she said, highlighting the Spaniard’s fierce celebration.

Meanwhile, 2016 Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig, too, was emotional about the 22-time Major winner’s exit.

"All in our feels right now," she wrote on Instagram.

Coco Gauff, too, showed her support.

Swiatek, Stubbs, Puig, and Gauff on Instagram
Swiatek, Stubbs, Puig, and Gauff on Instagram

John McEnroe’s brother, Patrick, called the former World No. 1 "the ultimate sports warrior."

"It’s a sobering moment as Rafael Nadal bows out 1st round… tough draw of course, but it’s a stark reminder that, in the end, things change, even if we wish it were not so. Thank you Rafa. Vamos," Former Australian tennis player Paul McNamee said.
"All good things must come to an end, and this one hurts…an end of an era that will never be replicated- @RafaelNadal just played his last match at Roland Garros the tournament. 14 titles- beyond belief. Thank you Champ!!! Olympics maybe? We hope so!!! Xoxoxo," Martina Navratilova wrote.

Here are a few more reactions from tennis players, including Ons Jabeur and Jaun Martin del Potro.

Tennis players on social media
Tennis players on social media
Tennis players on social media
Tennis players on social media

"This place is magical for me" - What Rafael Nadal said about the French Open before his match against Alexander Zverev

The Spaniard pictured with Alexander Zverev at the 2024 French Open (Image Source: Getty)
The Spaniard pictured with Alexander Zverev at the 2024 French Open (Image Source: Getty)

Rafael Nadal won his 14th French Open title and his 22nd Grand Slam in 2022. Incidentally, that was also his most recent career title. His season was derailed due to injuries thereafter.

Following a string of subpar performances during the tail end of 2022 and a hip injury sustained at the 2023 Australian Open, he took a break, skipping the French Open for the first time last year since his debut and maiden Grand Slam win in 2005.

The Spaniard acknowledged his legacy in Paris before his match against Alexander Zverev. He also said that while it was likely to be his final appearance at the French Open, he would like to leave the door open for a possible return.

"Is this my last Roland Garros? Probably yes, but I don't want to say 100%. I don’t want to close the door. I'm sorry. I can't predict the future. This place is magical for me," he’d said in his press conference (via Marca).

With the win, Alexander Zverev became only the third different opponent to beat the Spaniard at the French Open. Nadal previously lost to Robin Soderling in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in 2015 and 2021, and has an astonishing 112-4 win-loss record at the tournament.

What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years? Check here

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