Nadal Regoups Against Schwartzman, As Rain Stops Play
Roland Garros quarter-final to resume on Thursday
Rafael Nadal used a 40-minute rain delay to regroup and returned with greater self-belief to turn the tables on Diego Schwartzman in their Roland Garros quarter-final on Wednesday. Schwartzman deservedly led by a set and 3-2, but upon the resumption of play 10-time champion Nadal won three consecutive games for a 5-3 advantage in the second set, after a 20-minute passage of play between rain delays. Play was officially cancelled for the day at 7:30 p.m. local time.
Schwartzman, who has never beaten Nadal in five previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, won 70 per cent of his first-service points in the opening set, striking 20 winners to Nadal’s four. He took a 3-2 lead in the second set when they first returned to the locker room, following three straight service breaks. But Nadal stepped back onto Philippe-Chatrier Court and rediscovered his serve and forehand timing to win 13 of 18 points to seize the momentum.
The winner will next play third-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic, who has reached the final of two of the past three Grand Slam championships, or fifth-seeded compatriot and 2009 semi-finalist Juan Martin del Potro. Cilic and Del Potro are level at 6-6, 5/5 in the first set tie-break.
Schwartzman did what he does best right from the start, playing close to the baseline; moving fluently, striking aggressively, particularly on return, and cutting down on Nadal’s time between strokes. The diminutive Argentine cannot match Nadal’s power, but his work rate, discipline and adherence to his game plan earned him the first service break, one of two in a long opening set. Nadal immediately broke back, but unable to rely on his first service and forehand he was soon in trouble again.
Schwartzman was fearless, quick to move up the court on short balls that Nadal uncharacteristically struck with regularity, and broke for 5-4, prior to clinching his third set point chance with a forehand – his 20th winner of the 73-minute set. The final point of the last game was delayed as medical staff rushed to a spectator that was taken ill high up on Philippe-Chatrier Court.
Schwartzman carried the momentum into the second set, with Nadal struggling to find groundstroke timing and rhythm. Schwartzman led 3-2 when rain in Paris halted proceedings, after three straight breaks of serve. But upon the resumption of play, it was all Nadal, who got the crowd involved and soon led 5-3, 30/15 when the weather stopped play for a second time.
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