Rafael Nadal made a winning debut at Roland Garros in 2005, claiming the first Major title a couple of days after turning 19! The Spaniard has been the player to beat in Paris ever since, forging an incredible record at the clay Major and achieving things that will never be repeated.
In his 17th appearance at Roland Garros, Rafa is through to the 14th semi-final, dropping only two matches in almost two decades and writing history books. Nadal's 14th semi-final in Paris came after a hard-fought 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory over Diego Schwartzman, remaining on the title course and becoming the third player with that many semi-finals at a single Major.
Jimmy Connors achieved that at home at the US Open, and Roger Federer added 15 semi-finals to his tally at the Australian Open. Nadal has now joined the list, in another testimony of his incredible dominance at Roland Garros, winning 105 out of 107 matches in the French capital and setting a thrilling clash against Novak Djokovic on Friday.
Suffering only one loss in the Roland Garros quarter-finals over the years, Rafa had to dig deep to avoid the second against the persistent Argentine, who didn't lose a set before the Nadal encounter. Nothing could separate them until 4-4 in the third set before Rafa shifted into a higher gear to storm over his opponent and advance into the final four.
In a repeat of the last year's semi-final, Nadal lost a set in Paris for the first time since 2019 final, ending the streak of 36 sets won in a row but still emerging at the top. Nadal had to work hard to follow the rival's pace, missing some easy groundstrokes but still finishing with 35 winners and 29 unforced mistakes.
Rafael Nadal will play in his 14th Roland Garros semi-final.
Schwartzman grabbed three breaks from four chances, and Nadal responded with seven return games that carried him home, alongside a marvelous performance in the shortest range up to four strokes.
They traded breaks in games six and seven in the opener, and Nadal earned another at 4-3 when Schwartzman sprayed a forehand error. Serving for the set, the Spaniard placed a forehand winner in game nine for 6-3 after 42 minutes.
Diego started all over in set number two and played on a very high level to control the pace and impose his strokes. The Argentine opened a 3-0 advantage before Nadal pulled the break back in game five to stay in touch. Still, it wasn't to be for the king of clay, as Schwartzman clinched another break at 5-4 to become the first player who took a set from Rafa in Paris in two years!
Diego pushed strong in set number three again, dropping three points in the opening four service games and challenging Rafa to repeat that if he wanted to stay in touch. Like many times before, Nadal raised to the challenge and earned the crucial break at 30 at 4-4 for a massive boost.
The Spaniard held at love in the tenth game to secure the set and become a huge favorite in the fourth. There was only one player on the court in the fourth set, as Nadal claimed 25 out of 30 points to leave the opponent far behind and secure the 23rd bagel at Roland Garros that pushed him over the top in style.