Rafael Nadal will bid farewell to Rolland Garros. GETTY IMAGES

Rafael Nadal is set to conclude his 19-year career at the French Open, with his chances of adding to his 14 titles appearing slim. As he prepares to depart, he leaves behind an unparalleled record and a legacy unlikely to be matched.

The legendary Spaniard, a 22-time Grand Slam champion, claimed his first Roland Garros title as a teenager in 2005. A week from Monday, he will mark his 38th birthday.

Once ranked world number one, Nadal has now fallen to 276th in the rankings. Since January of last year, he has played only 15 matches due to a series of injuries, including a hip issue and a muscle tear. These ailments have forced him to miss 12 Grand Slam tournaments throughout his career.

Unseeded this year, Nadal's farewell might be short-lived as he faces world number four, Alexander Zverev, in the first round, with the match scheduled for Monday. “I’m going to play the tournament thinking that I can give my all, 100 percent,” explained Nadal after a second-round exit in Rome.

“And if 100 percent is not enough to win a match, I’ll accept that. But I don’t want to step onto court knowing that I have no chance. If there’s a 0.01 percent chance, I want to explore that and give it a go.”

Rafael Nadal will participate at Rolland Garros for the very last time. GETTY IMAGES
Rafael Nadal will participate at Rolland Garros for the very last time. GETTY IMAGES

Nadal's Parisian dominance extends to an impressive tally of 14 titles, accompanied by a staggering record of 112 victories and merely three losses, with two of those defeats handed to him by his perennial adversary, Novak Djokovic. Furthermore, he commands immense respect in the tennis world.

During his inaugural training session on Court Philippe Chatrier at Roland Garros this Monday, approximately 6,000 spectators flocked to witness his practice, with numerous voices echoing chants of his name. This week, Nadal shared the court for training sessions with fellow Grand Slam champions Stan Wawrinka and Daniil Medvedev.

Wawrinka remarked that Nadal remained "as formidable as ever," while Medvedev openly acknowledged his relief at not having to compete against the Spanish maestro, expressing, "I'm glad I'm not up against him."

In six clay-court encounters, Zverev has managed to secure victory against Nadal only once. Their encounter in Paris in 2022 saw the German forced to withdraw from their semi-final due to a severe ankle injury.

"I'm mentally preparing to face peak Rafa Nadal. That's the level of performance I anticipate from him. I expect him to be at the top of his game," remarked Zverev, who heads to Paris fresh off his triumph at the esteemed Rome Open.