Nadal, who has won the French Open a record 13 times, had been attempting to secure his first Paris Masters title — and equal Novak Djokovic’s record of 36 Masters titles — but the Mallorcan’s bid was halted by an in-form Alexander Zverev in the semifinals on Saturday.
The German, who served impressively, won 6-4, 7-5 and will now play Daniil Medvedev, who beat Milos Raonic in the other semifinal, in Sunday’s final.
This was Zverev’s second successive win over the 20-time grand slam champion after he beat Nadal at last year’s ATP Tour Finals.
“I’m extremely happy, how the season continued for me after the break has been pretty good,” the 23-year-old Zverev told Amazon Prime Sport, referring to the coronavirus interrupted tennis season.
“The biggest influence was the practice time we had during the Covid break,” added US Open fnalist Zverev, as he reflected on the work he did with coach David Ferrer during lockdown. “I think we improved a lot of things and it’s showing now.”
Nadal has won 86 ATP singles titles, though only one of those wins has come on indoor hard courts.
“I need to find a better feeling with the backhand on this surface, because when I hit the ball sometimes I feel that I can miss it,” said Nadal.
“To compete at this highest level, sometimes it’s a little bit tougher.”
The 34-year-old Nadal will now turn his attention to trying to win the ATP Tour Finals for the first time in his career.
The season-ending event in London starts on November 15.