"You're not playing the statue... I'm going to play peak Rafael Nadal, that's what I expect" - Alexander Zverev on facing Spaniard in French Open 1R

Rafael Nadal (L) and Alexander Zverev (R) [Source: Getty Images]
Rafael Nadal (L) and Alexander Zverev (R) [Source: Getty Images]

Alexander Zverev recently talked about his upcoming match against Rafael Nadal in the first round of the 2024 French Open. He feels the Spaniard will bring his A-game to the court.

Nadal is potentially in the final season of his career. He is set to compete in his last French Open, a Grand Slam where he boasts an impressive 112-3 win-loss record and has won a record 14 titles.

The former World No.1 will kick off his campaign in Paris against fourth-seeded Zverev, against whom he holds seven wins to three losses record on the ATP Tour. Their last meeting was in the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2022.

During a recent pre-tournament press conference, Alexander Zverev stated that he is confident in Nadal's abilities to perform at his best despite concerns after his injury struggles. The German claimed that he expects the former World No.1 to bring his best game to the court.

"You're not playing the statue, you're playing the actual person. You are playing Rafael Nadal. For me, in my mind, I'm going to play peak Rafa Nadal and that's what I expect him to be. I expect him to be at his absolute best. I expect him to play the best tennis that he's played in a long time on this court," Zverev said (at 2:15).

Alexander Zverev recalled how in 2022, there were doubts surrounding Rafael Nadal's form before the French Open. He stated that despite that, the Spaniard silenced his critics by 'dominating' the tournament and claiming his 14th Roland Garros title and 22nd Grand Slam overall.

"There's always been the discussion, I mean, in 2022 I remember he came into Roland Garros not winning Monte-Carlo, not winning Madrid, not winning Rome. He came into this tournament, everybody was like, 'Oh, he's a big question mark, he's this and that.' He came and dominated the entire tournament," he added (at 2:40).

Zverev reiterated that he will approach his first-round match at the French Open with the "mindset" that the 22-time Grand Slam champion will be at his "peak", and that he will need to deliver his best to secure a win.

"So in my mind I think he's going to be the peak Rafa Nadal. I think he's going to be at his best and that's my mindset going into this match," Zverev said (at 2:56).

A look into Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev's head-to-head record ahead of their French Open 1R clash

Alexander Zverev and Rafael Nadal
Alexander Zverev and Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev have competed against each other a total of 10 times on the ATP Tour, with the former emerging victorious in seven out of those 10 encounters.

Their rivalry began in 2016 at the Indian Wells Masters and continued through the 2017 Australian Open, 2017 Monte-Carlo Masters, 2018 Davis Cup, and the 2018 Italian Open, all of which were won by the Spaniard.

However, Alexander Zverev staged a comeback and won their next three showdowns at the 2019 ATP Finals, 2020 Paris Masters, and 2021 Madrid Open.

Their last two match-ups were at the 2021 Italian Open and the 2022 French Open, both won by Rafael Nadal.

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

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