Nadal's possible farewell to Roland Garros attracts fans from around the world

PARIS.- Tennis lovers traveled from all over the world to the French Open for a Monday date with Rafael Nadaland watching him play in what turned out to be his only game in the Roland Garros of this year. And possibly the last.

Nadal, who has won 14 of his 22 Grand Slam trophies in Paris, lost 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3 to Alexander Zverev on the second day of the tournament on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Tennis fans wanted to be present for what seemed like a historic occasion, even after Nadal said there remains a chance he could return.

“He is my favorite tennis player. Maybe when he retires, he'll find someone new. But I don't know if I'll give it that much love,' said Fiona Li, 35, who works in the luxury fashion sector in the Netherlands.

Li has been a Nadal fan since 2005 and posed with her friends at the Spaniard's statue that is located between one of the main entrances to the venue and the Chatrier.

Nadal had said he would retire sometime in 2024. When a reporter told him on Saturday that most people are assuming this will be his goodbye to Roland Garros, he smiled and said: “Don't assume it.” .

People longed to experience the atmosphere, and get as close to Nadal as possible, whether visiting the steel monument, checking out a practice or purchasing merchandise.

A global passion:

Julio Parada, a 49-year-old Bolivian who works in banking, wanted a photo with the statue, while wearing a cap with “RF” on the front, for Roger Federer.

“Actually, I prefer Roger, but Rafa was the most difficult rival he faced. We made the effort because we are aware that this is perhaps his last Roland Garros,” said Parada, who attended his first Grand Slam with his wife and son.

Barbra Chambati and her daughter Crystal also had tickets to the meeting. They had tried to watch a training session, but couldn't get in because it was too crowded.

Cathy Davis, 75, of Toronto, proclaimed herself “Rafa's ultimate fan.”

“On the court, his intensity is a plus. Outside of it, he's very humble,†Davis said.

No one could know for sure how long Nadal would remain in the draw during these two weeks.

“No matter how far I go,†Li said before watching Nadal against Zverev, “I will be there.â€