Halep herself has struggled with a different sort of consistency. Though a top player, Halep has been on the wrong side of many lopsided matches. Within the last year, she has lost 12 sets by either 6-0 or 6-1.
There were two such sets in the men’s final, during which momentum swung repeatedly. After Zverev broke Nadal’s serve in the first game, Nadal responded by reeling off six straight games to win the first set, 6-1, losing just five points against Zverev’s serve. Zverev then responded by racing out to a 5-0 lead in the second set before winning it, 6-1. Zverev carried his advantage into the third set as well, gaining a 3-1 lead. Then came a divine intervention for Nadal: the first of two rain delays. Nadal won one game between the delays, then all four following the second, to complete the victory.
Zverev, 21, rued the decisive change in momentum.
“Next time, I have to find a way to come out better after the rain and play better tennis,” Zverev said. “He came out way faster and played much more aggressive than I did.”
Like Svitolina, Zverev has accomplished multitudes at the tour level. He’s won eight titles, three of them Masters titles. He’s beaten Roger Federer on grass and had several narrow defeats against Nadal. This year, he’s reached the final of three of the five Masters tournaments, helping him to earn more ranking points than any player on tour this year so far.
At Grand Slam events, however, his results have fallen short. In 11 Grand Slam events, he has only reached the fourth round once, at Wimbledon last year. He is 0-7 against top-50 players at Grand Slam events.
Despite the hurdle, Zverev said little would change in his approach at the next major.
“I’ll try to play the same way — play the same way over a longer period of time — which it will be in Paris,” he said. “And we’ll see.”
Nadal echoed Zverev’s philosophy, and expressed complete confidence in his major breakthrough being inevitable.