The ten-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal had to work hard to reach the semi-final in Paris in 2018, beating the 1tth seed Diego Schwartzman 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 after grueling three hours and 42 minutes! The rain interrupted the match when Nadal served for the second set, and they returned to the court the next day to continue a massive battle that could have lasted for way over four hours had we seen more games.
Rafa lost a set in Paris for the first time since 2015 and found the range after that to topple an inspired rival and remain on the title course. After the second set, Rafa raced through the third and fourth to cross the finish line and advance into the last four for the 27th time at Majors, leaving Andre Agassi on 26.
It was the 28th victory from 30 encounters for Nadal in 2018, improving his Parisian tally to 84-2! Schwartzman gave his best to stay in touch with the mighty opponent, eager to impose his shots and keep Rafa under pressure after hitting 37 winners and too many errors, almost 20 more than Nadal.
The Argentine won 42% of the return points, but Rafa stole even more in Diego's games to clinch nine breaks of serve. Schwartzman had 20 break chances, nine in the opening set alone, and converted five of those in sets one and two to make Nadal run for his money and arrange the possible shocker.
After trading four breaks in a row in the middle of the second set, Nadal shifted into a higher gear and led 5-3, 30-15 before the rain ruined the action for the day, forcing them to resume at noon on the next day. As was expected from a grand champion, Nadal hit the reset button over the night and made a fresh start.
He took the second set and broke Diego in games one and five to move 5-1 ahead in set number three, serving well and controlling the pace with his deep shots from both wings that left the Argentine with no answer.
Rafael Nadal had to dig deep against Diego Schwartzman in Paris 2018.
Serving for the set at 5-2, Rafa fended off four break points and seized the second set point for 6-2 and another big step towards the last four.
Schwartzman had no clue how to stop Nadal's avalanche and suffered breaks of serve in games three and five in set number four. Diego saved a match point on serve at 1-5 and two more on the return in game eight, in his final push to prolong the match and his chances.
Nadal had some difficulties in sealing the deal, playing against three break points in that last game before finally converting the fourth match point with a forehand winner to book a place in the semis. After the match, Diego Maradona spoke to his compatriot, advising him to take everything from the top-ranked players but never to imitate them.
"When I lost to Nadal at Roland Garros 2018, Diego Maradona told me to copy everything I can from the best, but never imitate them. Each person is unique, and Maradona was too," Diego Schwartzman said.