Nadal to face Djokovic in French Open semifinal

PARIS — Rafael Nadal‘s French Open set streak is over. His pursuit of a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title — including 14 at Roland Garros — remains very much intact.

Nadal shrugged off dropping a set in Paris for the first time in two years and regained control Wednesday, whipping violent forehands punctuated with first pumps and yells of “Vamos!” en route to a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory over 10th-seeded Diego Schwartzman to reach the semifinals at the clay-court major tournament for a record-extending 14th time.

After taking the last nine games against Schwartzman, No. 3 seed Nadal will play in Friday’s semifinals against No. 1 Novak Djokovic — a rematch of last year’s final.

The semifinal will be the superstar duo’s 58th matchup, more than any other two men in the sport’s professional era; Djokovic leads 29-28, but Nadal is ahead 10-6 in Slam meetings, 7-1 at the French Open.

“We know each other well,” the third-seeded Nadal said. “Everybody knows that in these kind of matches, anything can happen.”

Added Djokovic: “I’m confident. I believe I can win. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.”

The other men’s semifinal will be No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. No. 6 Alexander Zverev.

Nadal, who turned 35 last week, is 105-2 in his career at Roland Garros.

He is just two wins from eclipsing the men’s mark for most total Grand Slam singles championships that he currently shares with Roger Federer.

In addition to his 13 trophies at Roland Garros — four in a row from 2005-08, five in a row from 2010-14 and another four in a row so far since 2017 — Nadal won four titles at the U.S. Open, two at Wimbledon and one at the Australian Open.

Nadal entered his quarterfinal with a 35-set run at Roland Garros that began during the 2019 final. That grew to 36 on Wednesday, before Schwartzman outplayed him for a stretch, surprisingly winning more of their exchanges that lasted at least nine strokes.

But what matters is who wins the match, and Nadal asserted himself quickly after Schwartzman was ahead 4-3 in the third.

Nadal would not drop another game, breaking to go up 5-4, before holding at love to take the third set. Then he broke again to open the fourth and really remove any remaining sense of suspense.

Schwartzman — now 1-11 against Nadal, including a loss in the 2020 French Open semifinals — started muttering to himself and bounced his racket off the clay a moment before getting broken again to trail 3-0 in fourth.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.