Nadal beats Schwartzman to reach Roland-Garros semi-final
Rafael Nadal’s hitting streak at Roland Garros is over. His pursuit of a record 21st Grand Slam title including 14 at Roland Garros remains intact.
Nadal shrugged as he dropped a set in Paris for the first time in two years and regained control on Wednesday, whipping up fierce forehands punctuated with first push-ups and shouts of “Vamos!” en route to a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory over 10th seed Diego Schwartzman to reach the semi-finals of the major tournament on clay.
After winning the last nine games against Schwartzman, No.3 seed Nadal will play in Friday’s semi-final against No.1 Novak Djokovic, in what would be a rematch of last year’s final and their 58th meets anywhere, or the No. 9 Matteo Berrettini. The Djokovic-Berrettini quarter-final was scheduled for Wednesday evening.
The other men’s semi-final will be the 5th Stefanos Tsitsipas against the 6th Alexander Zverev.
Nadal, who turned 35 last week, is now 105-2 for his career at Roland Garros.
He’s only two wins away from eclipsing the men’s mark for most of the Grand Slam singles championships he currently shares with Roger Federer.
In addition to his 13 trophies at Roland Garros four in a row from 2005-08, five in a row from 2010-14 and four more in a row since 2017, the Spanish left-hander has won four US Open titles, two at Wimbledon and one at the Australian Open.
There are four Grand Slam semi-finalists left for the first time in the women’s category, which last happened at the 1978 Australian Open.
In Wednesday’s quarter-finals, No.17 seed Maria Sakkari ended Iga Swiatek’s title defense by beating her 6-4, 6-4, and non-seeded Barbora Krejcikova stopped the race of Coco Gauff, 17, 7-6 (6), 6-3. Sakkari will therefore face Krejcikova on Thursday, when the other semi-final will be the 31st Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova against Tamara Zidansek, not seeded.
Nadal started his quarter-final with a 35-set streak at Roland Garros that started in the 2019 final. That rose to 36 on Wednesday, before Schwartzman beat him for a while, surprisingly winning more of their exchanges that lasted at least nine moves.
Ah, but what matters is who wins the game, and Nadal came out on top quickly after Schwartzman led 4-3 in the third.
Nadal wouldn’t drop another game, breaking to come back 5-4, before hanging on to love to win the third set. Then he snapped again to open the fourth and really remove any remaining sense of suspense.
Schwartzman now 1-11 against Nadal, including a 2020 Roland Garros semi-final loss, started mumbling and bouncing his racquet on the clay for a moment before breaking again to hang out 3-0 in fourth position.