Rafael Nadal knocked out in first round of French Open

Rafael Nadal waved as he left the pitch. Credit: AP

14-time winner Rafael Nadal has been knocked out of the French Open in the first round.

The 37-year-old Spaniard bid an emotional au revoir after losing in the first round to Alexander Zverev.

Nadal plans to be back in Paris for this summer’s Olympic Games and has not entirely ruled out a return next year.

But he believes the quick turnaround from clay to grass and back again means he is almost certain not to return to Wimbledon.

Rafael Nadal was knocked out in the first round. Credit: AP

“It looks difficult, honestly,” he said. “For me now I can’t confirm what’s going on, but it looks difficult to make a transition to grass, having the Olympics again on clay.

“So I cannot confirm anything. I need to talk with team. I need to analyse so many facts.

“But I don’t think it’s going to be smart after all the things that happened to my body to now make a big transition to a completely different surface and then come back immediately to clay.

“Today I feel that’s not a good idea, but I can’t confirm. But my feeling is even if I am booked in Wimbledon because I had to, I don’t think it’s a positive idea right now.”

Unseeded after his long injury absence and still way below the peak of his powers, Nadal was unfortunate to run into the in-form world number four Zverev in the opening round at the French Open.

Rafael Nadal shakes hands with Alexander Zverev after their first round match. Credit: AP

But Nadal gave the 27-year-old, 10 years his junior and a favourite for the title, a serious match before going down 6-3 7-6 (5) 6-3 in front of an adoring and emotional Philippe Chatrier crowd.

The Spaniard had told tournament organisers last week that he did not want a farewell ceremony as he would not “close the door” on a return to the Paris showpiece.

It seemed no one had got the memo, though. The seats behind the players’ boxes were crammed with current stars including Carlos Alcaraz, long-time rival Novak Djokovic and women’s number one and three-time champion Iga Swiatek.

Nadal added: “I didn’t see them, but I think in some way it’s normal, no? I think if that’s the last time that I’m gonna be playing here and if I know that Novak is the last time playing in Wimbledon or in Australia and I was there, it’s normal.

“I mean, happy that that happens, you know, because that means that I had a positive legacy here and positive legacy my career.”

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