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Rain Delays Nadal vs. Schwartzman, But Rafa’s Reign In Paris Still Alive As He Joins Del Potro In Semifinals

Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina plays Marin Cilic of Croatia during their men’s quarter final match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 07 June 2018. EPA-EFE/YOAN VALAT



By Ricky Dimon


Diego Schwartzman had Rafael Nadal on the ropes during their French Open quarterfinal contest on Wednesday. Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the underdog did, in fact, land at least a few blows.


But those weren’t enough to stop the rain and they weren’t enough to stop Nadal. With almost 24 hours to regroup following an overnight rain delay, the 10-time Roland Garros champion delivered the knockout punch on Thursday. Nadal rallied from a set deficit to defeated Schwartzman 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 after a total of three hours and 42 minutes of play.


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

“Of course the stop yesterday [helped me], because it was in a tough moment of my match,” Nadal reflected. “He was playing great, and I was playing too defensive. I felt that I was playing a little bit under more stress than usual, and he was able to take control of the point too many times…. (It) is fair to say that the rain delay helped me yesterday, but not fair to say the conditions today helped me; the conditions today were the same for both. I played more aggressive. I continued the level of intensity that I played after the first stop. And in my opinion, the match changed.


“Of course he’s a tough opponent, and he’s gonna always be a tough match. But at the same time, I think after the first rain delay, the match changed a lot because I played more aggressive with high intensity and the things were more on my side.”


“I think I did a great match,” Schwartzman assessed. “Rafa was (a) totally different guy yesterday, and today the match changed a lot. He was playing better than me today.”


Not as much separated Marin Cilic and Juan Martin Del Potro in the other top-half quarterfinal showdown. The two big hitters returned from a suspension at 5-5 in the first-set tiebreaker, with Del Potro ultimately getting the job done 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5.


The Argentine won two straight points right away on Thursday to finish off the opening set before his opponent briefly took the upper hand. Cilic won the second and also led by a break in the third set before things started to fall apart for the Croat. Del Potro’s final service break of the contest came at 5-5 in the fourth, which allowed him to serve it out with relative ease one game later.


“I’m feeling so, so happy to make the right decision for play here,” said Del Potro, who had retired from a Rome match against David Goffin due to a groin injury. “I am doing well. Of course I didn’t expect to get in (the) semifinals a couple of weeks before.”


“I felt that when I won the second set, the momentum was on my side,” Cilic noted. “I felt I was playing a little bit better. I started to be just the one who was controlling the game. (I) had 2-Love, 15-40 for double-break, and then at 3-1, another break point (with a) makeable return. I didn’t, and then things turned around.”


Now it is Del Potro who will have to make a quick turnaround with zero days of rest to go up against other than Nadal on semifinal Friday.


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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