Rafael Nadal advanced to the semifinals of the French Open after defeating Diego Schwartzman by a score of 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-0. The world number three from Spain will play against world number one Novak Djokovic for a spot in the final. Djokovic beat Matteo Berrettini to enter the semifinals.
Nadal, in pursuit of his fifth consecutive French Open title, record-extending 14th overall, and record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title, started the match well and won the first set without experiencing much difficulty. However, this lead would surprisingly not last. Nadal’s Argentine opponent won the second set, breaking Nadal’s 36-set winning streak which dated back to the final of the 2019 tournament. In that match, Nadal lost a set to Dominic Thiem.
Undeterred by this setback, Nadal matched Schwartzman shot for shot in the third set. He then broke Schwartzman’s serve to take a 5-4 lead, then served out the set. Nadal then eased to a comfortable fourth-set victory to clinch a spot in the semifinals for the fifth year in a row.
Speaking to reporters after the match, Nadal said, “Losing sets is something I (have) accepted during my tennis career. The thing that matters is how you recover from a set lost.”
“At 4-4 (in the third), returning with the wind helped,” Nadal added. “If I played a bad game there, I would have been in a tricky situation, saving (the game) to not lose the set. He’s a great player… I needed to play a little more (aggressively) and I think I did.”
In 11 previous matches against Nadal, Schwartzman had only won once. His sole victory came at last year’s Italian Open. Schwartzman also lost to Nadal at last year’s French Open. However, the loss was in last year’s semifinals rather than the quarterfinals. It was the only time in his career that Schwartzman has ever reached the semifinals of any Grand Slam tournament.
“At the end it was very difficult. I had the chances today, maybe in the third (set). I was close,” Schwartzman said of his most recent loss to Nadal.
“I was playing a little bit better than him. At the end, he’s Rafa and he’s always finding the way.”
If Nadal were to win the French Open, he would not only become the sole record holder for career Grand Slam titles with 21; he would also deny Djokovic the chance to close in on the record himself. Djokovic has won 18 such titles in his career thus far. The most recent of these came at the Australian Open earlier this year.
10th June 2021 12:27
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