The 13-time Roland Garros winner Rafael Nadal is through to his 15th quarter-final in Paris, winning the last 35 sets at his beloved Major. Last year in the quarters, Rafa had to dig deep to oust the young Italian Jannik Sinner, who became the youngest quarter-finalist as a debutant since Rafa himself!
The Spaniard came back from 6-5 down in the first set and erased a deficit in the second to prevail 7-5, 6-4, 6-1 and reach the semis. Rafa and Jannik were the rivals in Paris again this year, meeting in the fourth round and playing a similar match to the one from the last October.
Sinner served for the opener at 5-4 before losing ground and seven straight games to propel Nadal 7-5, 4-0 ahead. Rafa lost the next three games before restoring the order and taking the final eight games to seal the deal in style.
After the match, Nadal said that Sinner was a formidable rival and that he has to play against an even more challenging one in the quarters. Like in 2020, Rafa will step on the court against Diego Schwartzman, who is yet to lose a set in Paris after a terrible start of the year.
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 find a solution for certain problems, even though I made a strong finish against Jannik. I can't 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 final stages of the event, 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, but 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 challenging 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 don't think the problem is in a service motion; I'm just not relaxed enough and will try to fix that," Rafael Nadal said.