Rafael Nadal wins French Open semi-final after agonising injury for Alexander Zverev amid titanic clash

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 (AP)
(AP)

Alexander Zverev was forced to retire hurt in agonising circumstances midway through an enthralling French Open semi-final match with Rafael Nadal.

The Spaniard will head into a 14th men’s singles final at Roland Garros on Sunday after a fascinating contest across three hours ended abruptly, while finely poised at 7-6(8), 6-6 in Nadal’s favour.

Zverev missed four set points as the tiebreak eventually went to his opponent and the second set was level until he rolled his right ankle in the final point of the 12th game, and cried in anguish before initially leaving the court in a wheelchair.

Nadal, who turned 36 on Friday and is in pursuit of a men's record-extending 22nd Grand Slam crown, will face either Croatia's Marin Cilic or Norway's Casper Ruud on Sunday.

“Tough now,” Nadal said after Zverev’s retirement was confirmed. “Very sad, he was playing an unbelievable tournament, he's a very good colleague on the tour. I know how much he's fighting to win a Grand Slam.

“It was a super tough match. Over three hours and we didn't even finish the second set. Of course being in the final of Roland Garros is a dream without a doubt but at the same time that it finishes that way is tough. Seeing him cry like this is a tough moment.”

Zverev twisted his ankle as he tried to retrieve a shot and had to be taken off the Court Philippe Chatrier in a wheelchair.

After several minutes off court, he returned to the arena on crutches to concede the match.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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