A year ago, Rafael Nadal advanced into his 15th Roland Garros quarter-final following a 7-5, 6-3, 6-0 triumph over Jannik Sinner. It was their second meeting in Paris, with Rafa prevailing 7-5, 6-4, 6-1 in the quarter-final in 2020 after a tough battle in the opening two sets.
The last year's match was similar, as Sinner served for the opener at 6-5. The youngster lost the ground and dropped seven straight games to find himself 7-5, 4-0 down. Rafa lost the next three games in the second set before restoring the order and taking the final eight games to seal the deal in style.
After the match, Nadal admitted Sinner was a formidable rival, with an even more challenging one in the quarters. Like a year ago, Nadal faced Diego Schwartzman in an expected quarter-final. The Argentine made a slow start of the season before producing his A-game in Paris and winning every set en route to the last eight.
In 2020, Schwartzman kept Nadal on the court for over three hours before Rafa prevailed 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 to advance into the title clash.
Rafael Nadal defeated Jannik Sinner to set Diego Schwartzman clash.
"I had a mental drop at 4-0 in the second set.
Still, I recovered my game from the eighth game and never looked back, earning a bagel in the third. I have to solve certain problems, even though I made a strong finish against Jannik. I can not lose that many games in a row and have to be more aggressive in those moments and get back as soon as possible.
We are in the event's final stages, and it's essential to play well from start to finish without oscillations. I have done many good things in the past couple of weeks, starting from winning Rome. Still, I lack focus at some points.
Besides that, I think I have played well. Jannik Sinner is a tough opponent, and I beat him in straight sets. Now comes Diego Schwartzman, who is a very formidable rival. He is motivated to show his best tennis after a rough period.
I'm not pleased with my second serve here in Paris, and we have to work on that. I do not think the problem is in a service motion; I'm just not relaxed enough and will try to fix that," Rafael Nadal said.