Rafael Nadal lost a set at Roland Garros for the first time since 2019 but responded in typically impressive fashion to beat Diego Schwartzman and reach a 14th French Open semi-final.
The 35-year-old extended his unbeaten run of matches at Roland Garros to 35 with a 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-0 victory, and the bad news for the rest of the men’s draw is Nadal has never lost on the Parisian clay once he has reached the last four.
For a while it looked like the admirable Schwartzman could cause a monumental upset but Nadal responded to a moment of apparent danger by turning up the dial and winning the final nine games.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) June 9, 2021
All seemed relatively normal in the first set as Nadal kept Schwartzman at arm’s length and then recovered from 3-0 down in the second.
But Schwartzman was succeeding in playing on the baseline, applying pressure on his opponent, and at 5-4 it told as Nadal showed he is human after all with a couple of tense shots on set point.
For seven games in the third set, Nadal almost seemed to be on the back foot, and his next service appeared a chance for Schwartzman to strike again.
But instead the Spaniard came out with a renewed aggressive approach, won the final three games of that set and then surged through the fourth, dropping just five points.