Rafael Nadal debuted at Roland Garros in 2005, skipping the previous two seasons due to injuries. A teenager had already claimed titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome to gather momentum ahead of Paris, where he defeated Roger Federer and Mariano Puerta to secure the first Major trophy.
Instant chemistry was born, and Nadal has become the ultimate legend at Roland Garros and the most dominant figure at a single Major. From his 17 trips to Paris, Rafa has gathered 105 victories and only two defeats, claiming 13 titles from as many finals so far and hoping to add the 14th trophy to his collection on Sunday.
Nadal defeated Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 in the quarter-final to become only the third player with that many semi-finals at a single Major after Jimmy Connors and Roger Federer. Nadal had won 36 consecutive sets at Roland Garros since the final two years ago before Schwartzman ended that streak, only to lose the following two sets and propel Rafa into the semis.
Rafael Nadal will face Novak Djokovic in the Roland Garros semi-final.
Nadal will face Novak Djokovic in the battle for a place in the final, playing against the Serb for the 58th time and hoping to maintain his perfect record after the quarter-final round in Paris.
Nadal is aware of his outstanding numbers at the clay Major. However, he can't think about that now, focusing only on the upcoming clash and hoping to play on a high level against the most formidable possible opponent. "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.