His black outfit, arms and legs caked with rust-colored clay, Zverev was helped up by a trainer, then taken away from the court in a wheelchair.

Minutes later, after Nadal saw him crying in a small room in the stadium, Zverev came back out onto Court Philippe Chatrier on crutches, his right shoe removed, and conceded the match.

The sudden end to a contest that was three hours old but not even through two full sets allowed Nadal to become, on his 36th birthday, the second-oldest men’s finalist in French Open history.

Now he will try to become the oldest champion at a tournament he has already won a record 13 times, facing first-time Grand Slam finalist Casper Ruud on Sunday.

“Only thing that I can say is I hope he’s not too bad. Hopefully, it’s just the normal thing when you turn your ankle, and hopefully nothing [is broken].

That’s what everybody hopes,” Nadal said. “Even if for me it’s a dream to be in the final of Roland Garros, of course that way is not the way that we want it to be.

many in the crowd of 15,000 repeatedly chanting “Ra-fa! Ra-fa!“ he emerged to claim a tight-as-can-be, draining first set by a 7-6 (8) score after 1½ hours.

The second set also was headed to a tiebreaker after another 1½ hours when Zverev tumbled behind the baseline and lost a point that allowed Nadal to hold serve for 6-all.