Rafael Nadal cannot afford to switch off against Alexander Zverev warns Tim Henman
Tim Henman believes Rafael Nadal’s biggest challenge against Alexander Zverev at the French Open will be mental rather than physical.
Nadal shrugged off a chronic foot injury to beat arch-rival, defending champion and world number one Novak Djokovic in four gruelling sets on Tuesday night.
The Spaniard, who turns 36 on Friday, faces another huge test of his fitness when he takes on 25-year-old world number three Zverev in the semi-final.
Nadal has shown no signs of the recurring chronic injury that cut short his run in Rome but with so little tennis under his belt, it will stake a great effort to get over the line.
But Eurosport pundit and former British No 1 Henman told the channel: “Rafa’s physicality is unbelievable.
“Let’s wind the clock back to when we saw him walking off the court having lost to Denis Shapovalov and he was limping in Rome. Then 10 days later he’s in this tournament playing incredible tennis, he had to really pull it out of the bag against (Felix) Auger-Aliassime to go the five sets.
“We know he’s not getting any younger, but then to recover and to go up against Djokovic – one of his greatest rivals, the number one player in the world – and put in a performance like that, not only the quality of the tennis but his attitude, the physicality for four hours and 12 minutes, it’s incredible.
“There’s going to be a physical challenge, but it’s also a mental challenge because normally when Rafa beats Djokovic in a grand slam it’s the final and he gets handed the trophy, but that was the quarter-finals.
“So yes, he does have two days to recover, but this is going to be a tough test even for Rafa.”
::Watch every match from Roland-Garros live and exclusive on discovery+ and Eurosport::
Wimbledon day four: British favourites fall but Cameron Norrie keeps home flag flying
Cameron Norrie ensured at least one Briton would reach the third round.
Andy Murray will ask how much more he can take after Wimbledon defeat
It was almost as if Andy Murray…
Cameron Norrie not trying to ‘make a name’ for himself at Wimbledon
The British number one won in five sets to make the third round at SW19 for a second consecutive year.
Novak Djokovic offers support to family of Boris Becker
Novak Djokovic has hosted Becker’s family in his player’s box in both rounds of Wimbledon so far.
Novak Djokovic to make Laver Cup call after Wimbledon
Novak Djokovic is interested in taking part in the Laver Cup.
John McEnroe paints a grim picture for Novak Djokovic
John McEnroe sees a future where Novak Djokovic ends the year ranked outside the top 40.
Emma Raducanu’s Wimbledon dream dies – but what comes next matters more
Raducanu may have failed to live up to ridiculous Wimbledon expectations, but it is far too early to write her off.
Novak Djokovic blows past Thanasi Kokkinakis in straight sets
The reigning champion dropped just seven games on Centre Court.
Alexander Zverev ‘in a positive mood’ as rehab begins
Alexander Zverev in a good mood as rehab journey begins.
Novak Djokovic says there is no ‘medical logic’ behind banning unvaccinated players from US Open
Novak Djokovic perplexed by decision not to allow unvaccinated players to compete at US Open.