Rafael Nadal looked unlikely to win his 14th French Open championship 10 days before the tournament.

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The 35-year-old was eliminated from the Rome Masters by erratic Canadian Denis Shapovalov in three sets.

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Nadal hinted at retirement after the victory due to a foot injury that may sideline him for most of 2021.

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Nadal remarked after the Shapovalov loss, "I damaged my foot again."

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"I'm injured." Not surprising. Sadly, it exists. Everyday is hard.

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Nadal, who turns 36 on Friday, is now a heavy favourite to win the French Open and surpass Novak Djokovic's 20 career Grand Slam championships.

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Nadal startled Djokovic in a four-set quarterfinal with his work rate and defence, driving the world no. 1 into errors as he hunted for wins on the line.

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Nadal showed no indications of exhaustion or injury during his fourth-round five-set win over Felix Auger-Aliassime.

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Nadal meets world no. 3 Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals on his 36th birthday.

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The brilliant German was an outsider until defeating Carlos Alcaraz in four sets in his quarterfinal. 

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The Spanish youth boosted his Roland-Garros credentials by upsetting Nadal and Djokovic at the Madrid Masters.

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Now that Djokovic and Alcaraz are out, Nadal will be confident against Zverev, whom he has beaten four times on clay.

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Nadal's tennis against Djokovic would arguably beat any player in the world. The Spanish veteran chased down every ball to annoy the world no. 1.

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If Nadal beats Zverev, he'll face a player from the bottom half of the draw, which contains some surprise contenders.

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Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas were eliminated in the fourth round, therefore one of Casper Ruud, Marin Cilic, Andrey Rublev

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and Holger Rune will reach the French Open final. Only Cilic has previously reached a Grand Slam final.

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In 17 French Open appearances, only Djokovic and Soderling have beaten Nadal.

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