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Rafa Nadal Roars Into 11th Roland Garros Tennis • Semifinal In Paris At The French Open By Richard Pagliaro

Rafael Nadal of Spain plays Diego Schwartzman of Argentina during their men’s quarter final match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 07 June 2018. EPA-EFE/CAROLINE BLUMBERG



By Richard Pagliario


Rain subsided by the time Rafael Nadal and Diego Schwartzman resumed their quarterfinal today.


Then Nadal unleashed a red storm.


The reigning Roland Garros champion roared through 13 of 18 points upon resumption sparking a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 triumph racing into his record-extending 11th Roland Garros semifinal.


It is Nadal’s 27th Grand Slam semifinal, which is fifth on the Open Era leader list.


The 32-year-old Spaniard raised his Roland Garros record to 84-2 charging into tomorrow’s semifinal against either 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro or 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic.


Continuing his quest for a record-extending 11th Roland Garros crown, Nadal bounced back in a declarative performance today after seeing his streak of 37 consecutive sets in Roland Garros snapped yesterday.


This quarterfinal was a tale of two decidedly different days.


Diego Schwartzman of Argentina plays Rafael Nadal of Spain during their men’s quarter final match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 07 June 2018. EPA-EFE/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

The 12th-ranked Schwartzman smacked 20 winners in the opening set and broke serve five times in building a one-set, 3-5 lead before a second rain delay suspended play last night.


On a dryer, quicker court against a refocused Nadal, it was much tougher sledding today. Schwartzman whipped 29 winners on Wednesday, but managed just eight winners over the final two sets today.


When the sky cleared today, Nadal shifted into full beast mode.


Moving closer to the baseline and thumping his forehand with vigor, Nadal won 13 of 17 games played today in raising his 2018 clay-court record to 24-1.


It was in marked contrast to yesterday when Nadal navigated an 11-minute hold to open. The first two games took 18 minutes to complete.


Charging forward behind a sharp-angled backhand, Schwartzman knocked off a high backhand volley breaking for 4-3. It was a short-lived lead for the shortest member of the Top 20 as Schwartzman littered errors to give back the break.


The break pattern continued as Schwartzman pounced on shallow shots and zapped a diagonal forehand winner scoring his third break for 5-4.


An hour into the match, the 5’7″ Schwartzman tomahawked a shoulder-high forehand down the line for double set point. The Argentinian missed the first set point then was frozen by Nadal’s drop shot on the second.


A Schwartzman smash created a third set point. Prior to serving a second serve, Schwartzman saw commotion in the crowd and stopped. A fan fell ill in the stands causing a stoppage as the tournament doctor and referee went into the stands to attend to the fan, who was eventually helped to his feet and led to treatment.


When play resumed Schwartzman got a first serve and took an emphatic first strike rocketing a 100 mph forehand winner down the line. Schwartzman snatched the opening set snapping Nadal’s streak of 37 consecutive sets at Roland Garros in stunning style.


It marked the first time since the 2015 quarterfinals Nadal surrendered a set at Roland Garros, a streak spanning more than 1,000 days.


A rattled Nadal even resorted to cutting rallies short with the drop shot at times, signifying self doubt in the face of Schwartzman’s percussive drives. Rain began to intensify as Nadal missed a running forehand giving the Argentinian a set and a break lead 90 minutes into the match.


Rafael Nadal of Spain plays Diego Schwartzman of Argentina during their men’s quarter final match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 07 June 2018. EPA-EFE/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO

Squandering a 40-love lead, Schwartzman imploded in a sloppy fourth game as Nadal broke back to level after four games. Umbrellas were popping up around Court Philippe Chatrier as Schwartzman pumped his 26th winner for his fifth break and a 3-2 lead as play was suspended due to rain.


After a near 50-minute rain delay play resumed but Schwartzman could not convert a game point. he badly bungled a point-black backhand and sprayed a forehand as Nadal broke back for 3-all.


A resurgent Nadal reeled off 10 of 11 points breaking at love for 5-3 before a second rain delay ended play Wednesday.


When play resumed today, a refreshed Nadal asserted authority immediately taking the second set and snatching a 2-0 lead in the third.


On a mission.


Rafa comes out firing to take a two sets to one lead over Schwartzman.#RG18 pic.twitter.com/3Fhy5riqfa


— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 7, 2018


Hitting with more pace and depth, Nadal took total command of the third set.


The top seed denied four break points serving for the set, eventually sealing a 14-and-a-half minute game on a Schwartzman error for a two sets to one lead.


Picking the Argentinian apart, Nadal unloaded a barrage of forehands breaking at love for a 2-1 fourth-set lead. Nadal denied a break point extending to 4-1 then dipped a devious drop shot winner confirming for 5-1.


Fans erupted in a chant of “Diego! Diego!” after Schwartzman saved a match point and the diminutive Argentinian answered flashing a forehand strike down the line and eventually holding.


Despite today’s defeat, Schwartzman will depart Paris as the world No. 11. The man in the backward blue baseball cap left with a show of tenacity earning three break points in the final game.


On his fourth match point, Nadal curled a forehand into the corner of the court, closing in three hours, 42 minutes spread over two days. Nadal leaped high into the air in celebration landing on familiar ground.


Nadal has never dropped a Roland Garros semifinal and will be intent on sustaining his roll tomorrow.

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