Nadal, Del Potro reach French Open semi-final


PARIS, June 7: Rafael Nadal lost his first set at the French Open since 2015 but that blip did not prevent the 10-time champion from marching into the semi-finals with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Diego Schwartzman in their rain-delayed match on Thursday.
The world number one had looked out of sorts in damp conditions on Wednesday as Schwartzman bombarded him with winners to cause him all sorts of problems, with the Argentine leading by a set and a break when the players were first called off court due to rain.
Upon resumption, the Spaniard gradually improved before rain brought an early end to the day with Nadal on the brink of winning the second set.
It was a very different story when the contest resumed on Thursday in drier conditions as Nadal won 12 of the first 13 points before cruising into the last four.
The 16-times Grand Slam champion will face another Argentine, fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro, for a place in Sunday’s final.
“It was a very difficult match against a very good friend and a very good player. I think that after the rain interruption I played much better, I was more aggressive,” said Nadal.
Despite entering the contest with a stupendous 83-2 win-loss record at Roland Garros, Nadal is known to suffer jitters early and Schwartzman capitalised on those nerves to break for a 2-1 lead in the opening set.
Nadal broke straight back by raising his own level.
Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro came through a clash of the titans against Marin Cilic to reach his first French Open semi-final for nine years on Thursday, winning a rain-delayed duel 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5.
The 29-year-old powerhouse’s eighth successive defeat of Cilic set up a clash with 10-time champion Rafael Nadal.
Play resumed on a sunny Court Suzanne Lenglen with the towering fifth and third seeds locked at 5-5 in the first set tiebreak after rain had curtailed their high-octane clash on Wednesday.
Del Potro needed only two points to pocket the first set as Cilic blinked first, netting a routine forehand a 5-6.
The second set like, the first was dominated by serve until Cilic fired himself up to break at 4-4 – a furious Del Potro throwing his racket at the changeover. (Agencies)