The Roland Garros schedule has been altered this year due to the pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped the dirt locomotive known as Rafael Nadal.
The 34-year-old Spaniard and number 2 seed beat number 12 Diego Schwartzman, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (0), in 3 hours and 8 minutes in the semi-final on Friday to advance to a another Roland-Garros Final. He will face No.1 Novak Djokovic, who beat number 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas in five difficult sets.
Nadal is 6-1 against Djokovic for the French, his only loss coming in the 2015 quarter-finals.
Nadal improved to 99-2 at Roland Garros and won 29 consecutive games in the event ahead of Sunday’s final. He is aiming for his 13th Roland Garros crown and his 20th Grand Slam title, which would equal his longtime rival Roger Federer for the men’s tops.
“It was very difficult,” said Nadal, in a field interview with Cédric Pioline. “I want to thank the crowd for their support. It’s amazing to be in another Roland Garros final. It is always a special time. I made a few mistakes in the third set when I missed a few ends.
“I know when I play against Diego it’s difficult until the end. A few weeks ago I lost to him in Rome and I’m happy to improve every day. I didn’t play my best in Rome, but he still plays his best and he had a fantastic win against Dominic. [Thiem] A few days ago.”
Nadal remains the favorite to win the title, with Djokovic slightly behind him, by bookmaker.eu
Schwartzman, 28, was playing his first Grand Slam semi-final. He had beat Nadal in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open last month before lose to Djokovic in the final.
Still, Nadal came in at 9-1 against the Argentinian and defeating Nadal in a best of three sets match is very different from doing it in a best of five.
While the conditions for Nadal’s quarter-final victory over 19-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner were much colder and heavier, conditions were perfect for Nadal on Friday, with the court bathed in sunshine and then shadows. and temperatures in the 1960s.
After Nadal paused in the first set, Schwartzman knew he had to win the second or face long chances of winning the game. Nadal got a break early in the second, and Schwartzman had a chance to come back with Nadal serving at 3-2. But after losing 0-30, Nadal increased his intensity and scored four consecutive points for 4-2.
In the third set, Nadal led 4-2 but Schwartzman fought at 5 and lost Nadal 15-40 on his serve before the Spaniard held up 6-5.
Nadal then won easily in the tie-break to win the match.
Nadal hit 38 winners with 34 unforced errors and converted 6 of 9 break opportunities. Schwartzman made 48 unforced errors against 24 winners and got 3 out of 12 break chances.
In the midst of the pandemic, Nadal chose to skip the US Open where he was the defending champion, presumably in part to preserve his body for the French.
“Being Rafa, given her age, how difficult it is to travel, her best chance of winning Roland Garros is not to come to New York,” said Martina Navratilova, 18 times major champion. said in august. “I would have been surprised if he had actually played.”
Without him and Federer – and with Djokovic failing in the fourth round for unintentionally hitting a linesman in the throat with a ball – Thiem won his first major title.
Now Nadal and Djokovic find themselves in the final on Sunday with history at stake.
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