Rafael Nadal advanced to the 2021 French Open semifinals with a four-set victory over No. 10 seed Diego Schwartzman on Wednesday at Stade Roland-Garros in Paris.
Nadal, a 13-time French Open champion who's captured the title each of the last four years, has never failed to win the championship at Roland-Garros when he's reached the semis. He recorded 35 winners and seven breaks of serve in the quarterfinal win (6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0) over Schwartzman.
The No. 3 seed moves through to face either top-seeded Novak Djokovic or ninth-seeded Matteo Berrettini in the clay-court Grand Slam's penultimate round.
Neither Nadal nor Schwartzman had dropped a set through the tournament's first four rounds, but both those streaks came to a swift end Wednesday as they split the first two sets.
The key game came deep in the third set, with Schwartzman serving at 4-4. He'd dropped just three points on serve all set prior to that point, but Nadal won the first two points and went on to score the break before taking the set in the next game.
In all, the 35-year-old Spanish superstar won nine straight games to finish the match.
"I started badly in the second set, then I was able to come back," Nadal said in his post-match interview. " ... I needed to play more aggressively, and I did so throughout the rest of the match."
It was another efficient all-around performance from the King of Clay, who won 71 percent of points on serve, 46 percent on return and converted seven of his 14 break chances. He also struck six aces.
Schwartzman kept pace until deep in the third set, but his play dropped off significantly after that critical Nadal break. He finished with far more unforced errors (39) than winners (26) and didn't generate any break opportunities over the final two sets.
Looking ahead, Nadal will likely face off with Djokovic in the semifinals in what would be their 58th career ATP Tour meeting. Djokovic holds a slight 29-28 advantage in the prior matchups.
If Berrettini pulls off the upset, it'll set up just his second meeting with Nadal, who won their first encounter at the 2019 U.S. Open in straight sets.