Rafael Nadal is one set away from reaching his 13th Roland Garros final. The Spaniard leads Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3 on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
Attempting to gain revenge for his quarter-final loss to the Argentine at last month’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, Nadal has landed 24 winners and won 13 of 15 net points to move one set from his 99th victory in 101 matches at Stade Roland Garros.
The five-time year-end No. 1 is attempting to extend his unbeaten run in Roland Garros semi-finals to 13-0. Across his previous 12 encounters at this stage in Paris, Nadal has won 36 of the 39 sets he has contested.
Competing in a Grand Slam semi-final for the first time, Schwartzman is attempting to recover from two sets down for only the second time in his career. The 28-year-old is bidding to become only the seventh Argentinian man to reach a Grand Slam final.
The opening game of the match provided an early indicator to the battle ahead, with both men duelling from the baseline for 14 minutes as Nadal attempted to hold serve. The Spaniard was forced to save two break points, before ripping a crosscourt backhand winner to get on the scoreboard. Three consecutive breaks followed, as Nadal established a 3-1 lead by using his forehand down the line and moving to the net to finish points. The 12-time champion faced regular pressure on serve, but closed the set after 64 minutes when Schwartzman fired a backhand into the net.
Nadal extended his advantage early in the second set, driving his groundstrokes into Schwartzman’s forehand corner to earn break point. The 59-time clay titlist broke through when Schwartzman mis-timed an attempted backhand up the line. Nadal also began to find rhythm on his serve, improving his first-serve points won from 63 per cent in the opening set to 81 per cent. Nadal clinched a two-set advantage by breaking serve for the fourth time. The Manacor native drove a forehand up the line on set point, which Schwartzman failed to control on his forehand.