Schwartzman set for Nadal problem in semi-finals


Stefanos Tsitsipas will take on world No 1 Novak Djokovic in other semi-final on Friday

Last Updated: 08/10/20 4:59pm

The 12th seed goes into the semi-final having beaten his opponent at the Italian Open

Diego Schwartzman is fully prepared for the challenge of Rafael Nadal in the French Open semi-finals, while Stefanos Tsitsipas will take on Novak Djokovic for a place in the final.

The two semi-finals will be played back to back on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Friday with the final taking place on Sunday afternoon.

Schwartzman, the world No 14 and 12th seed, goes into his semi-final with Nadal on the back of an exceptional contest against his friend and US Open champion, Dominic Thiem.

The two players spent over five hours on court before Schwartzman prevailed 7-6 (7-1) 5-7 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-5) 6-2.

It’s a result that will have boosted his confidence further and will add to the recent memories of his victory over Nadal in Rome, just three weeks ago .

However, the history books still have Nadal as the heavy favourite. He has an imperious record at Roland Garros having won 98 matches and lost just two.

He has yet to drop a set this year and hasn’t ever lost a match once he’s got to the semi-final stage in Paris.

“If I see the history, I’m not sure if I’m going to have a lot of confidence,” Schwartzman said. “But I know that I can beat him. That’s the important thing.”

Nadal’s quarter-final against 19-year-old Jannik Sinner marked his first significant challenge in the draw. Not only did Sinner’s talent test the 12-time champion, but the scheduling and playing conditions did too.

Ever the professional, Nadal took his game to new heights and he knows that he will need to re-find that level from the first ball against Schwartzman.

“He’s coming with big confidence,” Nadal said. “He was in the final in Rome and is in the semi-finals here. He beat me there. It’s a plus of confidence for him. I know that.

“I’m going to try to go on court, play my best, try to play my game, play aggressive, try to do something a little bit different than what I did in Rome, of course.”

The world No 1's fitness will be closely looked at after issues in his quarter-finals

The world No 1’s fitness will be closely looked at after issues in his quarter-finals

The second semi-final will be contested between the world No 1 Novak Djokovic and the fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

After progressing into the quarter-finals with ease, Djokovic didn’t have a pleasant time of it against Pablo Carreno Busta.

He appeared uncomfortable and battling with a neck and arm injury but has since been accused of feigning his injury concerns by Carreno Busta.

Carreno Busta accuses Djokovic of gamesmanship

Pablo Carreno Busta has accused Novak Djokovic of feigning injury concerns during their French Open quarter-final on Wednesday.

After their encounter, Djokovic said that he didn’t want to reveal too much about his physical shape as he was still in the tournament, however did discuss his semi-final opponent.

“He’s one of the best players in the world. Deservedly where he is in the rankings,” the world No 1 said of Tsitsipas.

“He’s been playing the tennis of his life really in the last 12 months, winning World Tour Finals, just being very consistent on all surfaces with his results.

“He has an all-around game. He’s a big guy, big serve. He produces a lot of spin.”

The Greek player is focused and in form

The Greek player is focused and in form

Tsitsipas has won 15 sets in succession after dropping his first two in the opening round, and Djokovic continued to highlight the 22-year-old’s talents.

“He comes into the net. He can play aggressively. He can defend well because he moves well. He’s really a complete, all-around player.

“I expect a really tough, tough match, tough challenge for both of us. I’m hopefully going to be able to feel my best and play my best.”

Tsitsipas, who is preparing for just his second career Grand Slam semi-final, is expecting to be up against a fit and firing Djokovic.

“An injury is not going to play (a part in) anything,” he said. “I have to play the way I have to play. I’m approaching that match with the same intensity and the same focus that I’ve been doing the last few matches.”

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Steven Gregory