French Open Semifinal Predictions Including Rafael Nadal vs Diego Schwartzman

Rafael Nadal Paris 2020 Quarterfinals FO

The semifinals of the French Open feature Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic looking to continue their winning streaks against Diego Schwartzman and Stefanos Tsitsipas respectively. Our panel of Yesh Ginsburg, David Gertler, Jim Smith, and Damian Kust offer their predictions.

Rafael Nadal vs Diego Schwartzman

David: Rafael Nadal had to work harder than many expected to beat Jannik Sinner, but he still got it done in straight sets. Nadal’s forehand is so potent on clay, he makes it nearly impossible to beat him. Diego Schwartzman won an epic five-set match with Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals. Schwartzman, who beat Nadal on his way to the Rome final earlier this year, is in the form of his life. However, best-of-five at Roland Garros is a completely different proposition for the Argentine, as he will have to sustain a top level of play over a longer period of time. Given Schwartzman just played over five hours and Nadal is still the greatest clay courter to ever play the game, that seems unlikely. Nadal in 4

Jim: Schwartzman may have beaten Nadal at the Italian Open just over two weeks ago, but it is hard to see him repeating the feat against the Spaniard in Paris. Not least because of the five-hour battle he fought with Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals. But even had he beaten the Austrian in short order, Nadal is a different beast in Paris. The bigger court make him almost impossible to hit through and his aura of invincibility remains undimmed. Schwartzman may well take a set, but anything more than that seems most unlikely. Nadal in 4

Damian: Everyone will be thinking of their Rome match during the warm-up and the question is – can it happen again? I think Nadal is a bit vulnerable, basing especially on the first set against Sinner. He also wasn’t properly tested yet, which leads me to believe Diego can have a shot here. But it’s still Nadal on Philippe Chatrier, a setting he only failed to succeed in twice. Ultimately, I expect Diego’s lack of firepower to lead to his downfall. I also don’t trust his ability to close out sets and matches, something you just need to do against Nadal. Nadal in 4

Yesh: Schwartzman has been playing better than Nadal for much of this tournament, but it’s hard to trust the inexperienced Argentine in the biggest match of his career. Schwartzman is playing well enough to win a set, but it’s hard to see him finishing three. Nadal in 4

Novak Djokovic vs Stefanos Tsitsipas

David: Novak Djokovic was clearly dealing with an injury in his match against Pablo Carreno Busta, but he didn’t let it stop him, taking down the Spaniard in four sets. After some struggles early on in the tournament, Stefanos Tsitsipas has found his form. Utilizing a very solid baseline game, Tsitsipas was able to comfortably move past Andrey Rublev in straight sets to reach the semifinals. Djokovic, however, is the more complete player and should dominate backhand-to-backhand exchanges. While Tsitsipas will put up a fight, it won’t be enough against an all-time great. Djokovic in 4

Jim: Neither Djokovic, nor his body, were entirely convincing in his four-set win over Pablo Carreno Busta. But in the end, Djokovic was able to find tennis of sufficient quality to find away through the Spaniard’s dogged resistance. Tsitsipas, meanwhile, was quite excellent in his win over Andrey Rublev. But the world #1, provided he is healthy, should have the defensive skills that Rublev fatally lacked. His ability to put work on the ball should also trouble the Greek. Djokovic in 4

Damian: The real question here is – how serious the Djokovic physical issues are. Tsitsipas has really impressed me in this event, his single-handed backhand especially is looking very solid and not that easy to break down. This matchup is usually very tough for Tsitsipas, forcing him to play first-strike tennis with extreme consistency. Can he do it on Friday? I think there’s a decent chance, with the clay allowing Tsitsipas to set up the first forehand after the serve. I’ll give a slight advantage to the Greek, who has been looking much better physically than the top seed. Tsitsipas in 5

Yesh: Assuming he’s healthy, Djokovic should have no real trouble here. Tsitsipas is playing very well, but he’s not a great matchup on the clay for taking out Djokovic. The Serb should move through. Djokovic in 3

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