3 Times Rafael Nadal Lost at French Open Ahead of Possible Roland Garros Finale vs Zverev

3 Times Rafael Nadal Lost at French Open Ahead of Possible Roland Garros Finale vs Zverev

Joel Reyes
May 27, 2024 at 2:00 AM
  • Rafael Nadal will face Alexander Zverev in the first round of the 2024 French Open
  • The Spaniard has lost just three times during the Grand Slam clay-court tournament
  • He has won this event a record 14 times, the latest of which came in the 2022 edition

The end is near for the great Rafael Nadal.

Monday's first-round clash against Alexander Zverev may be his last match at Roland Garros, where he cemented his status as one of the greatest tennis players ever.

Sports Brief looks at the rare times Nadal lost at the French Open ahead of his showdown with Zverev in Paris.

Rafael Nadal, French Open, Roland Garros, Novak Djokovic, Robin Soderling
Rafael Nadal congratulates Novak Djokovic after their semis clash in the 2021 French Open on June 11, 2021. Image: Martin Bureau.
Source: Getty Images

Nadal's losses at the French Open

1. Robin Soderling (2009)

Nadal's first loss at the French Open came in 2009 when he lost to Robin Soderling in the fourth round.

The King of Clay entered the match as the overwhelming favourite, having won each of his previous 31 matches in the event, dating back to 2005.

He was the four-time defending champion and was tipped by many to win his fifth consecutive French Open title that year.

Soderling had other ideas, though, as he played the best match of his tennis career against Nadal in Round 4. He took the first set in style, winning it 6-2 in just 34 minutes after breaking the Spaniard's serve twice.

He pushed Nadal into a tie-break in the second set, but this time around, the veteran came out on top. He won six consecutive points in the breaker to level the match at one set apiece.

Just when it seemed momentum was with Nadal, Soderling took it back again in the third set. He broke Nadal's serve in the seventh game before taking it 6-4, per The Guardian.

Despite the deficit, many expected Nadal to come back and win. He raced to a 2-0 lead in the fourth set, but that advantage soon vanished, with Soderling breaking back immediately.

The fourth set went into a tie-break, with the Swede overwhelming Nadal 7-2. With the win, Soderling recorded the biggest upset in French Open history.

2. Novak Djokovic (2015)

Nadal bounced back from that loss to Soderling in 2009, winning five consecutive French Open titles from 2010 to 2014.

However, he struggled in the 2015 season and entered his quarter-final showdown against Novak Djokovic as the underdog.

The Serbian star went into the clash against Nadal on a 26-match winning streak, per the BBC. He was on a mission to win the French Open title, the only Grand Slam missing from his trophy cabinet at the time.

Djokovic lived up to his favourite status, beating Nadal 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 to become just the second man to oust the Spaniard at Roland Garros.

3. Novak Djokovic (2021)

The semi-final showdown between Djokovic and Nadal in the 2021 French Open will go down in history as one of the greatest matches ever played at Roland Garros.

The two tennis legends went toe-to-toe in a four-set epic, with Djokovic prevailing 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-2.

Momentum swung in the Serbian's favour in a high-quality third set, which lasted a whopping 98 minutes. Djokovic held his nerve in the tie-break to take the lead over Nadal.

The Spaniard tried to stage a rally in the fourth set, winning the first two games. The joy was short-lived, though, as Djokovic won the next six games to seal the victory and a spot in the final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

He made history with that win, becoming the first player to beat Rafael Nadal twice in the French Open.

Roddick reacts to Nadal vs. Zverev

Sports Brief recently reported on Andy Roddick's reaction to Nadal vs. Zverev, letting out a roar when he noticed the blockbuster match-up.

The American had intentionally dodged the 2024 French Open draw all morning so he could react to it live on camera for his tennis podcast.

Joel Reyes photo
Joel Reyes
Joel Reyes is a sports editor at Sportsbrief.com with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of the Philippines. He has eight years of work experience in sports writing.
Novak DjokovicRafael Nadal