Rafael Nadal overcame Diego Schwartzman to advance to a 14th French Open semi-final on Wednesday, despite losing his first set…
Rafael Nadal overcame Diego Schwartzman to advance to a 14th French Open semi-final on Wednesday, despite losing his first set at Roland Garros in two years.
The 13-time champion prevailed in four sets 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-0 to set up a mouth-watering last-four showdown with top seed Novak Djokovic on Friday.
It promised to be an intriguing battle on Philippe Chatrier between two players yet to drop a set in their previous four matches.
Nadal, who had won 10 of his 11 showdowns with Schwartzman, struck first to win his 36th consecutive set at Roland Garros.
The Spaniard’s flawless streak stretched back to his 2019 final clash with Dominic Thiem, who suffered a first-round exit from this year’s tournament.
However, 10th seed Schwartzman brought the run to a shuddering halt by taking the second 6-4 to level proceedings.
The third set went with the serve as the Argentine led 4-3, but Nadal broke in the ninth as he reeled off the next three games to edge his nose back in front.
And it was one-way traffic thereon for the 18-time major winner, who rattled off six games without reply to seal his place in yet another semi-final.
Nadal has never lost from this stage onwards in Paris, but will not find it easy by any means against Djokovic.
The top seed also needed four sets to see off Matteo Berrettini 6-3 6-2 6-7 7-5 in front of 5,000 supporters on Chatrier.
Djokovic was targeting his 40th Grand Slam semi-final and took command of the opening two sets against the Italian.
Berrettini, who received a walkover following the withdrawal of Roger Federer in round four, was consequently the fresher of the two players.
The ninth seed kept his hopes alive by taking the third set on a tie-break.
But it proved a false down as another closely fought fourth set went the way of Djokovic, who is now just two wins away from securing a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title.
Earlier in the day, reigning women’s champion Iga Swiatek saw her title defence come to an end at the hands of Maria Sakkari.
Swiatek, who entered the contest having won each of her previous 22 sets at Roland Garros, was no match for her inspired Greek opponent.
Seeking to become the first player from her nation to win a Slam, 17th seed Sakkari boosted her chances of achieving the feat as she advanced 6-4 6-4.
Her reward is a clash with Barbora Krejcikova, who is also through to her maiden semi-final at a Slam after seeing off Coco Gauff in straight sets (7-6 6-3).
Trailing 5-3 against the highly rated 17-year-old, Krejcikova managed to hang in there by saving five set points in the first before prevailing in a tie-break.
The Czech then established control in the second and despite seeing five match points go begging, she held her nerve to eventually seal the deal.
French Open 2021 Results
Wednesday June 9
Court Philippe Chatrier
Coco Gauff 6-7, 3-6 Barbora Krejcíkova
Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-4 Iga Swiatek
Diego Schwartzman 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 0-6 Rafael Nadal
Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 Matteo Berrettini