France, May 27 -- The 27-year-old German prevailed 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 to dispatch Nadal at the earliest point from the competition he has won 14 times.

"It's such a great honour to play him," said Zverev immediately after his first-round victory in front of a packed Court Philippe Chatrier.

"I watched him all my childhood and I've been lucky enough to play him a few times."

Good fortune was far from Zverev two years ago when the pair met in the semi-finals at the French Open. The then third seed was in the ascendance but twisted his ankle during the second set and was forced to retire. Nadal went on to claim a 14th title.

Fast forward two years and following his health issues, Nadal, 37, has plummeted to 276 in the world rankings while Zv...