The 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal will compete in the 14th semi-final in Paris after beating Diego Schwartzman. After a mediocre start of the season, Diego found his A-game at Roland Garros and reached the last eight without losing a set.
A year ago, the Argentine kept the Spaniard on the court for over three hours, and he took a set from him on Wednesday, only to fall 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0. Nadal lost a set in Paris for the first time since 2019, struggling to find his strokes until 4-4 in the third and experiencing one of his toughest tests in Paris since 2017.
Like many times before, Rafa shifted into a higher gear and rattled off the last nine games of the encounter to move over the top and remain on the title course. Rafa said that he faced a challenging service game at 3-4 in the third set, bringing it home at love with a backhand down the line winner and gathering confidence that carried him over the top.
"I served at 3-4 in the third set, with pressure on my back. I was determined to play a good game, and it went great for me. I increased my level when I needed that the most. From that moment until the end, I produced an excellent level of tennis, perhaps the highest of the entire tournament.
I stayed calm and played like on the practice court, restoring the order after struggling to follow Diego's aggressive pace in set number two. My balls were short and lacked depth in those moments; I had to change that, and I started to move forward and attack as I was forced to.
Rafael Nadal had to work hard in the opening three sets against Schwartzman in Paris.
Regardless of my past results at Roland Garros, I'm not confident if I don't play well. Of course, there are places where you feel like playing well more often than in others.
I faced a tricky situation in the third set, and I calmed down and did the right things. I would have preferred to face Novak in the final, mainly because you are already in the title match. In the semis, you have one more encounter after that en route to the title.
Even if you win the semis, you still have to produce another triumph to get the trophy. Novak is a formidable opponent, and if you beat him, you have to face another rival from the top. Novak and I know each other well. In this type of match, anything can happen.
Whoever brings the better tennis will have bigger chances to win. It's a crucial encounter for both of us, and the most significant difference is that it's only the semis; the winner still has a lot to do after that.
My numbers here in Paris are staggering, but I can't think about them right now. It's time to be happy today, as I beat a tough rival and played my best tennis in crucial moments; that gives me confidence," Rafael Nadal said.