Nadal reaches French Open final again to edge closer to 20th Grand Slam title - GulfToday

Nadal reaches French Open final again to edge closer to 20th Grand Slam title

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal plays a shot against Diego Schwartzman during their French Open semi-final match at the Roland Garros in Paris on Friday. Associated Press

PARIS: Rafael Nadal showed no sign of relinquishing his French Open crown as he suffocated Argentine Diego Schwartzman 6-3 6-3 7-6(0) in the semi-finals on Friday to move within one win of a record-equalling 20th Grand Slam title.

The 34-year-old Nadal, now undefeated in 13 French Open semi-finals, once again relied on his massive forehand to notch up his 10th win in 11 encounters with Schwartzman, who beat him at the Italian Open last month.

Nadal, who advanced into the Paris final without dropping a set for the first time since 2017, will equal Roger Federer’s men’s singles record of winning 20 majors if he triumphs on Sunday.

Schwartzman, the 12th seed, kept Nadal on court for over three hours but managed only 24 winners in the contest.

“With these conditions it’s very difficult, and it’s still incredible to be in the final again. Thanks to my team, my family. It’s a beautiful moment for me,” said Nadal, who has now progressed to the final without losing a set for the sixth time.

“I know with Diego it’s very difficult until the end. He’s one of the players who makes more (service) breaks on the tour.

“A few weeks ago, I lost in Rome so I expected a very tough match. Happy the way that I played. I think I have been improving and today has been a very positive match for me.”

All signs pointed to a tight encounter and a 14-minute opening game confirmed that Nadal would not have it easy in chillier conditions than usual, with the tournament having been postponed from its usual May-June spot amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The scoreline belied the intensity of the match, but Schwartzman missed too many opportunities to shake Nadal’s confidence, converting only three of 12 break points.

Nadal, who now has a mind-bogging 99-2 win-loss record at Roland Garros, broke six times from nine chances, raising his level under pressure.

In the second set, he lost only four points on serve against one of the world’s best returners.

Nadal broke early in the third set and Schwartzman, looking increasingly frustrated, seemed on the verge of collapse but the Argentine fought back to send the set into a tiebreak.

Nadal, who also produced an outstanding defensive performance, won a quick exchange at the net to move 2-0 up and never looked back.

Schwartzman, who was playing his maiden Grand Slam semi-final, found the net with a return on match point to allow Nadal into his 28th major final.

winning French Open title would be crazy: Iga Swiatek said it would be “crazy and overwhelming” if she becomes Poland’s first Grand Slam singles champion by beating American Sofia Kenin in the French Open final on Saturday.

But the 19-year-old said she is not heaping pressure on herself and would be happy whatever the outcome.

“I feel like I’m ready. I also feel like I don’t have to win. I’m pretty okay with both scenarios,” Swiatek told reporters after her hopes of also reaching the doubles final were ended when she and partner Nicole Melichar lost in three sets to Desirae Krawczyk and Alexa Guarachi on Friday.

“I’m just going to focus like it’s another match. I feel like the pressure isn’t on me. Right now I’m just enjoying that I have like a great run in singles.

“I think if I’m going to win, it’s going to be crazy and super overwhelming for me. But even though there’s, like, chaos around me, when I’m coming on court, I feel like my mind is clear. Just focus on playing, going back to basics.”

Far from enjoying a relaxing day before her maiden Grand Slam final, Swiatek was battling it out with American Melichar and however relaxed she sounds, her competitive instincts were on show as she was clearly angry at losing 7-6(5) 1-6 6-4.

“I tend to get a little bit more frustrated in doubles because I feel like I’m playing also for my partner,” Swiatek, bidding to become the youngest French Open champion since Monica Seles in 1992, said.

“But, yeah, I’m going to be okay on singles. Singles is a totally different story.”

Swiatek has reached the singles final for the loss of only 23 games but Kenin, 21, will be a formidable opponent having won the Australian Open in February.

The only other time they played against each other was in the French Open juniors four years ago when Swiatek won.


Related articles