Sun, 20 Jun 2021

Defending champion Rafael Nadal advanced to the semi-final at the French Open on Wednesday for the 14th time following an enthralling four set victory over the 10th seed Diego Schwartzman.

Nadal, seeded third, went into the clash boasting 10 wins over the Argentine in their 11 meetings.

That defeat came on clay at the Italian Open Rome in 2020. Nadal avenged that loss less than a month later in last year's French Open semi-final.

Nadal won the first set in their 2021 encounter after 43 far from convincing minutes on a centre court at 30 percent capacity following the easing of government restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in France.


To the delight of the 5,000 fans, Schwartzman broke to lead 2-0 at the start of the second set as Nadal continually hit short.

Nadal reeled him in and often had to produce the spectacular to wrest a a point off someone who was able to exchange with him from the baseline at length.

Schwartzman's efforts were eventually awarded. At set point down, Nadal fluffed an attempted lob to give Schwartzman the second set 6-4.

It was the first set the Spaniard had lost since Dominic Thiem claimed the second set in the 2019 final.

Nadal went on to win that showdown and hoist a 12th French Open title. After that match Thiem admitted he could not ultimately live with Nadal's intensity in the third and fourth sets.


Nearly two years later, Nadal showed increasing brittleness and impatience against Schwartzman's stubborn defence and vim around the court.

However, the quarter-final appeared to turn when a struggling Nadal held for 4-4 in the third set.

The 35-year-old emitted a roar and clenched both fists in a vignette reminiscent of his younger marauding self.

It was the presage of a particularly savage rampage. The 13-time champion won the next eight games to claim the third set 6-4 and the fourth 6-0 after two hours and 45 minutes.

"Diego is an incredible player," Nadal told the post-match interviewer Marion Bartoli. "After losing the second set, I needed to play more aggressively and I did. So I'm happy I was able to do it."

Nadal will take on the winner of the night session match between the top seed Novak Djokovic and the ninth seed Matteo Berrettini.

Originally published on RFI

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