French Open 2022: Zidane, a Nadal fan, believes Alcaraz will eventually take over
Rafael Nadal eased past Dutch 26th seed Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 at the Roland Garros on Friday.
13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal remained on course for a potential quarter-final meeting with World No.1 Novak Djokovic after seeing off 2021 US Open quarter-finalist Botic van de Zandschulp at the Roland Garros on Friday.
The Spanish legend eased past the Dutch 26th seed 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to improve his record at his favourite hunting ground to 108-3.
Real Madrid great and World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane was in attendance as Nadal cruised to victory, with the 35-year-old setting up a last-16 clash with Felix Auger-Aliassime.
The French football icon, pegged to be Paris Saint Germain's next manager, was back at Roland Garros, 17 years after handing Rafael Nadal his first of 13 trophies. Zidane, a Nadal fan, spoke about the up-and-coming generation spearheaded by Carlos Alcaraz.
"It's always a pleasure to be here and share moments like this in such a relaxed atmosphere and watch great athletes do their thing. Roland Garros is such a legendary place, so whenever we have the chance to come here, we seize it," the football great said.
"It's the new generation, it's great but I'm from the older one. We'll try and keep pushing Rafa (Nadal). If he can... He's still here, so it would be great. But it's true that the new generation with Carlos Alcaraz will eventually take over," Zidane concluded.
While Nadal did not get to converse with Zidane, he was aware of the Frenchman's presence as the record 21-time grand slam winner outlined his plans to make the short trip to support Carlo Ancelotti's Real Madrid.
Paris' Stade de France plays host to the Champions League showpiece on Saturday, with Los Blancos aiming for a 14th European Cup as Liverpool look to add to their EFL Cup and FA Cup successes this season.
"I didn't see him, but I knew it was him. I knew he was there because I was listening to the crowd shouting his name all the time," Nadal told reporters when asked about Zidane.
"So I imagine he was there, but I didn't have the chance to see him after my match or talk with him at all. Tomorrow, let's see how I wake up, because, you never know with my body how the surprises are there," the Spanish ace added.
"But if nothing happens, and I expect nothing happens, and if I'm able to have the right practice tomorrow, my intention and my goal is to be there [at the Stade de France]," Nadal concluded.