French Open: Rafael Nadal battles back to defeat Diego Schwartzman

French Open: Rafael Nadal battles back to defeat Diego Schwartzman

The Spaniard was a set and a break down to Schwartzman at one point, though a rain delay on Wednesday and then an overnight delay saw Nadal turn the match around and reach the last four.

oliver-dickson-jefford
Oliver Dickson Jefford

World number Rafael Nadal came through his first scare of this year’s French Open against 11th seed Diego Schwartzman in the last eight at Roland Garros, with the ten-time champion coming from a set and a break down to prevail in a clash spread over two days.

The encounter started on Court Philippe Chatrier in damp conditions on Wednesday and it was Schwartzman who thrived early on, leading by a set and a break before a first rain delay. However, Nadal took control when the two returned, only for a second rain delay to delay the clash overnight.

On the resumption of the match today, it was Nadal who was in control in much sunnier conditions, securing the second set before taking the third and fourth sets to secure a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory in three hours and 42 minutes.

Nadal was in complete control in better conditions on Thursday (Getty/Cameron Spencer)
Nadal was in complete control in better conditions on Thursday (Getty/Cameron Spencer)

Nadal pulls through rain-interrupted encounter

Nadal had already come through one match this tournament where he had to come back a second day due to rain, back in the first round against Simone Bolelli, and this time it absolutely played into the Spaniard’s hands.

The Spaniard struggled on serve early on, being tested regularly by Schwartzman, one of the strongest returners on tour. Nadal was broken twice in the opening set only to break straight back, but the Argentine broke for a third time at 5-4 and served out the first set to be the first person to win a set against Nadal at this tournament since 2015.

Schwartzman was in control early on in the second, breaking for a 2-1 lead and then breaking again for a 3-2 lead after Nadal broke him back. However, a rain delay switched the match around, with the top seed storming to a 5-3 lead after the resumption of the match, only for more rain to delay the conclusion of the match until today.

Schwartzman proved to be Nadal's toughest opponent so far, but eventually fell in four sets (Getty/Clive Brunskill)
Schwartzman proved to be Nadal's toughest opponent so far, but eventually fell in four sets (Getty/Clive Brunskill)

When play started again today, Nadal calmly served out the second set, and then broke early on in the third. Schwartzman was able to save double break points down at 0-2, though it did not take long for the Spaniard to break again for a 4-1 lead, and Nadal eventually saved break points serving at 5-2 to take the third set against Schwartzman.

By now, Nadal was in complete control, and an early break of serve in the fourth put him close to victory. Schwartzman did have break points down 1-2 to try and level up proceedings, but could not convert and the Argentine was broken for a second time in the set to take a decisive 4-1 lead. Schwartzman valiantly saved two match points when serving to stay in it, though could not break through Nadal as the Spaniard saving three break points to successfully serve out the match. 

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