Nadal to face Schwartzman in semis, Tsitsipas sails; Kenin sets up Kvitova clash for spot in final - GulfToday

Nadal to face Schwartzman in semis, Tsitsipas sails; Kenin sets up Kvitova clash for spot in final

Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova returns the ball to Germany’s Laura Siegemund during their French Open quarter-final match in Paris on Wednesday. Agence France-Presse

Paris: Rafael Nadal reached his 13th Roland Garros semi-final early Wednesday, defeating Italian teenager Jannik Sinner in a high-quality clash which ended just before 01:30 in the morning, the latest ever finish at the tournament.

Nadal, the 12-time champion, won 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 6-1 to clinch his 98th victory in his 100th match at the French Open.

The 34-year-old will now face Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, who knocked out third seeded US Open winner Dominic Thiem, the runner-up in Paris to Nadal in the last two years, for a place in Sunday’s championship match.

It will be Nadal’s 34th semi-final at the majors.

Nadal takes a 9-1 lead over Schwartzman into that match although the Argentine won their most recent clash in Rome on the eve of Roland Garros.

World number 75 Sinner, bidding to become the first man to make the semi-finals on debut since Nadal in 2005, was left to rue his missed chances.

Tsitsipas downs Rublev: Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the second Grand Slam semi-final of his career, raising his game after a slow start to defeat Russian Andrey Rublev 7-5 6-2 6-3.

The Russian looked set to keep his record intact as he served for the first set at 5-4 but Tsitsipas, who also reached the semi-finals at last year’s Australian Open, fought back to level the set and then broke Rublev’s serve to take the opener.

From 3-5 down in the first set, Tsitsipas won five straight games and a frustrated Rublev seemed to have run out of ideas against his inspired opponent.

The 2019 ATP Finals winner started finding sharp angles while generating more power in his groundstrokes. He started approaching the net more often with success and also began playing sublime passing shots.

Rublev did not find a way back into the match as Tsitsipas broke his serve three more times in the next two sets.

A forehand volley for his 35th winner completed the win for the Greek on his second match point.

Kenin sets up Kvitova clash: Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin moved two wins from a second Grand Slam title of 2020 when she defeated American compatriot Danielle Collins to reach the semi-finals.

The 21-year-old fourth seed prevailed 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 and will face two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova on Thursday for a place in Saturday’s championship match.

Collins required treatment on an abdomen injury at 4-0 down in the decider, a condition not helped by her high-pitched screams of “come on” which became progressively louder as the tie went on.

The other semi-final sees Polish 19-year-old Iga Swiatek tackle Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska, the world number 131 who is bidding to become the first qualifier to reach the final of a Grand Slam tournament.

Earlier, Kvitova put in a powerful display to breeze past unseeded German Laura Siegemund 6-3, 6-3 to reach her second semi-final of the tournament after a gap of eight years.

The 30-year-old, a two-times champion at Wimbledon, reached the last four stage on the claycourts at Roland Garros in 2012 and was yet to lose a set at this year’s tournament in Paris, which has lost the top three seeds in the women’s draw.

The 32-year-old did not pose a challenge in the opening set as Kvitova put in a near-perfect show.

The left-hander hit six aces, lost a single point on her first serve and converted her first breakpoint opportunity to canter through the opener in 34 minutes. She hit 14 winners against five unforced errors.

But the German gave a good account of her fighting spirit in the second despite suffering a lower back problem midway through.

Kvitova broke serve early but started having trouble with double faults. She saved three breakpoint chances before the German converted the next to get the set back on serve at 2-2.

Siegemund saved three breakpoints from 0-40 in the next game but lost her cool at the umpire after getting a time violation warning at 40-40 and suffered another break.

She then called the trainer to get a massage on her lower back and returned to break Kvitova to get the set back on serve.


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